Trump Administration Wants the ACLU to Find the Missing Migrant Parents It Has Deported

After declaring victory for reuniting some of the thousands of immigrant children it forcibly separated from their families illegally crossing the border, the Trump administration reportedly wants the American Civil Liberties Union—instead of the government—to find the missing parents the administration has already deported.

In a court filing Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the ACLU should “use their considerable resources” in order to locate the hundreds of parents the administration deported before reuniting them with their children, according to the filing, Politico reported. The ACLU originally filed a class action lawsuit back in March against the government’s new policy of separating immigrant families, many of which were seeking asylum, who illegally crossed the border.

“Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, [non-governmental organizations], volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” DOJ lawyers said.

The ACLU responded on Twitter Friday morning, saying the administration chose to “rip families apart” as part of its “zero tolerance” immigration policy “to punish people for seeking asylum.” The nonprofit organization said it was “eager to help locate these parents, but won’t allow the president to pass the blame for the crisis he created.”

“The federal government has far more resources to aid in reuniting families than any group of nonprofits,” the ACLU stated. “They want to blame others for the consequences of their unconstitutional family separation policy, but we won’t let them.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment on why it believed the ACLU should be responsible for finding the missing parents.

An administration official told Politico on August 2 that the new court filing “simply asks the court to require the ACLU to determine the wishes of and fulfill their obligations to their clients, as they have repeatedly represented in court that they would.”

The DOJ told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw July 6 that it needed more time than the July 26 deadline to reunite the nearly 3,000 families it separated, because the government could not find the parents it had already deported. When the deadline arrived, the administration declared victory, claiming it had reunited all the “eligible” families it had separated. The DOJ’s status report showed the government only reunited around 1,800 of the more than 2,550 it was ordered to. Of those not reunited, 431 children were deemed “ineligible” for reunification because their parents had already been deported, according to the DOJ.

Following the missed deadline, the government was ordered by Sabraw to find the parents it had deported. With the DOJ’s new filing, it’s unclear who, how and when the hundreds of parents already deported will be found and reunited with their children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has repeatedly stated that once someone is deported, it no longer keeps track of them.

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