The parents of 61 migrant children separated from their families at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration have been found since February, but lawyers are still unable to locate the parents of 445 children, according to a court file filed Wednesday.
In the filing, the Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union noted slow progress in ongoing efforts to reunite families affected by a policy to prosecute all undocumented immigrants to the United States, even though it meant separating the children from their parents.
The update on reunification efforts comes as the Biden administration struggles to process a growing number of migrants seeking entry into the United States on the border with Mexico, including many children held in prison-like facilities longer than the law allows due to overcrowding. .
Of the remaining 445 children, a majority are believed to have parents who have been deported, while more than 100 children are believed to have parents currently in the United States, according to the court record. The government has yet to provide contact information to locate families with more than a dozen children.
Although court records indicate that U.S. agencies and the ACLU continue to work together to reunite families, the effort has proven to be more difficult over time. The first research began years ago, under the Trump administration, after the family separation policy was rolled back in the summer of 2018.
Only a fraction of the approximately 2,700 children initially separated under the policy still remain, and President Biden has indicated that reuniting the remaining children with their families is a priority. During his first week in office, Biden signed an executive order creating a task force headed by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, to focus on family reunification.
Advocates for families separated at the border during the Trump administration continue to pressure the president to act faster to reunite them. Lee Gelernt, an ACLU lawyer who has fought a long legal battle against Mr. Trump’s separation policy, said progress has been made but more remains to be done.
“We and the Biden administration still have a huge job to do if we are to correct the terrible abuses of the Trump administration’s family separation practice,” he said.