U.S.

ICE Can't Find Parent of Child Separated at Border Over a Year Ago, and Both May Be U.S. Citizens

The Trump administration has said a child held in a detention facility by Immigration and Customs Enfrocement (ICE) under the government's immigration policy and their parent may both be U.S. citizens.

A federal judge had set Tuesday as the deadline for the government to reunite 102 children under age 5 separated from their undocumented migrant parents at the U.S. border.

In a status report, the Department of Justice (DoJ) and American Civil Liberties Union said the administration was on track to reunite 34 children held at detention centers with their parents by Tuesday's deadline, with four already returned

It also said it would not be able to reunite the remaining 64 by that time, and outlined the reasons why.

In one case, the reason it gave is that both the child held and their parent may be U.S. citizens.

The government listed the case of a child who "cannot be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year," and "records show the parent and child might be U.S. citizens."

The filing does not detail the circumstances under which the child was separated from their parent, or why it happened more than a year ago.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) department has not responded to a request for comment, but told Business Insider it does not comment on individual cases.

Most of the children held in custody were separated from their parents after the Trump administration introduced its “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Under the policy, immigrants who cross the U.S. border illegally face automatic criminal prosecution, and if travelling with children, are separated from them.

Trump rescinded the policy in June following national and international outcry, with images from within detention centers showing children held in cage-like pens, and heard in audio recordings crying for their parents.

In the filing, the administration said it had already reunited four children with their families ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

It said that 27 young migrant children are “not eligible for reunification,” and 12 other children’s parents had already been deported from the U.S.

Of those not eligible, eight children’s parents had a "serious criminal history" including narcotics, human smuggling, murder and robbery, while two cannot be reunited with parents because of a possible threat of child abuse.

Five had been separated from adults who were not their parents, while another child’s parent is being treated for a communicable illness.

Nearly 3,000 children were split from their undocumented migrant parents at the border under the “zero tolerance” policy.

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