Trump Administration Says More Than 450 Parents May Have Been Deported Without Their Children

More than 450 immigrant parents separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border when they entered the country illegally are no longer in the U.S. even though their children remain behind, a joint filing on Monday by the federal government and American Civil Liberties Union revealed.

The 463 missing parents are believed to have been deported, according to the filing as reported by Reuters.

Their absence could hamper government efforts to reunite separated families by Thursday, the deadline the Trump administration has been given to reunite the thousands of families separated under its "zero tolerance" separation policy.

A protest rally at the Tornillo port of entry near El Paso, Texas, June 21, which included several American mayors, against the administration's family separation policy. The Trump administration said that 463 migrant parents may have already been deported without their children. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

As of Monday, the government had reunited 879 parents with their children, meaning more than a thousand were yet to be reunited.

The government said on Monday that 917 of the parents separated from their children were either deemed ineligible for reunification or not yet known to be eligible.

The total included parents who were known or no longer believed to be in the country, as well as those who were found unsuitable for reunification because of criminal convictions, or other reasons.

Around 2,500 children were separated from their parents under the "zero tolerance" family separation policy announced in April.

The policy was rescinded in June after amid widespread backlash, with the United Nations calling the separation policy a violation of children's rights.

The ACLU reportedly expressed frustration in the Monday filing, stating concerns over parents getting deported without being adequately informed about their options.

"These parents urgently need consultations with lawyers, so that they do not mistakenly strand their children in the United States," the ACLU wrote in the court filing, according to Reuters.

Read more: Thousands of migrants have reported sexual abuse while in ICE custody

The ACLU said it also had not been given a list of the parents who had signed a form in which they had "volunteered" to be deported without their children.

There have been concerns over reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been pressuring detained immigrant parents separated from their children to sign voluntary deportation forms under the impression that it would be the only way for them to see their children again.

ICE has maintained that while it had been using such a form detailing parents' options on leaving the U.S. with or without their children, it was used only in cases where parents were subject to a final order of deportation as part of a "long-standing policy."

The ACLU had previously said it had witnessed cases in which people with pending asylum claims had been given the form and made to believe that deportation would be the best route to reuniting with their children.

The ACLU asked San Diego District Judge Dana Sabraw on Monday to order the Trump administration to hand over their names by the end of the following day.

It is unclear whether the government would be able to meet the proposed deadline as it races to meet Thursday's deadline of reunifying all separated children with their parents.