“More than 5,000 families were separated under Trump’s 2018 ‘zero tolerance’ policy and a 2017 pilot program and advocates estimate over 1,000 remain separated,” the report said. “Because the Trump administration did not keep records of which children were separated and where they were sent, the task force and lawyers working on behalf of separated families have had a difficult time identifying families to offer them the chance of reunification.”
Soboroff tweeted that the parents of 168 known children ripped away by the previous administration have still not been located. The parents of most of these kids have likely been deported. Soboroff said that officials have no contact information for three of these children. Remember that officials with the previous administration had claimed they had “a central database" that could quickly link children and parents, but that turned out to be a giant lie.
“We are thrilled for the hundreds of children who will finally be with their parents after all these years, but we are not even halfway through reuniting all the families that remain separated by the Trump administration,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt told NBC News. "And indeed, we still haven’t located nearly 200 families. I think the Biden administration would agree that there’s a lot of work yet to be done.”
Deported parents have been returned to the U.S. by the administration under a process known as humanitarian parole, which allows them to live here for period of three years. The president has said he supports permanent legal status for separated families, but that’ll only be possible through the backlogged asylum system, or congressional action. Lawmakers including Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro have previously introduced legislation that would accomplish that, but it has failed to advance.
“While we applaud the Biden admin's efforts to reunite families separated by the cruel Zero Tolerance policy, Congress must provide the resources necessary to facilitate future reunions and help families heal from the trauma of their separation,” tweeted Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Brané told NBC News that “many of the families have suffered from profound mental health issues after their separation and counseling is often needed before they reunify.”
Both “M.S.E.” and “J.M.,” the mother and son from the recent lawsuit, were traumatized by the policy. M.S.E., as she’s identified in court documents, said her son appeared “withdrawn” and “very sad for a long time. He even began cutting himself,” documents said.
“J.M. still hurts from the separation. He still remembers it vividly and viscerally: he feels great pain in his chest and throat when he thinks about it. Now 19 years old, J.M. continues to struggle with the damage the separation caused, stating, ‘I’m big now, so I try to be strong. But I still feel broken inside.’”
Separated mom was told to forget about her son because he would be put up for adoption, lawsuit says
Trump officials complained that family reunifications were happening too quickly, documents show
Physicians find family separation constituted torture, was 'form of enforced disappearance'