A highly disturbing detail emerged as the federal government discussed its inability to reunite all migrant children under age five with their parents during a Tuesday court hearing: U.S. Customs and Border Protection might have taken custody of an American citizen’s child and is unsure the whereabouts of the parent.
Tuesday marks the deadline for ICE to reunite dozens of toddlers forcibly separated from their parents by various immigration authorities earlier this year. The government will, by its own recognition, fail to meet the court-ordered deadline in regards to roughly half of the children identified in the original court order.
One child’s case in particular is likely to be controversial. According to the report [emphasis added]:
“1 child cannot be reunified at this time because the parent’s location has been unknown for more than a year. Defendants are unable to conclusively determine whether the parent is a class member, and records show the parent and child might be U.S. citizens.”
According to two U.S. Attorneys and six officials within the Department of Justice identified in the Tuesday filing, ICE itself tends to believe that U.S. immigration agents separated a family of U.S. citizens–and then lost track of the parent while keeping the child in the custody of an unmentioned government agency.
As for the rest of the children, the Trump administration officially missed the Tuesday deadline to return all 102 to their parents.
Federal officials expected to reunite 34 children with their parents by the deadline, though it remains unclear how many of those reunifications actually transpired.