FILE - In this Wednesday, June 20, 2018, file photo, stuffed toy animals wrapped in aluminum foil representing migrant children separated from their families are displayed in protest in front of the United States embassy in Guatemala City. In a report released Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the Biden administration says it has identified more than 3,900 children separated at the border under former President Donald Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on illegal crossings. (AP Photo/Luis Soto, File)

US identifies 3,900 children separated at border under Trump

US identifies 3,900 children separated at border under Trump

  • Jun. 8, 2021 5:40 p.m.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration said Tuesday that it has identified more than 3,900 children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border under former President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal crossings, providing one of the more detailed accounts of a chapter in U.S. immigration history that drew widespread condemnation.

The Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force count of 3,913 children separated from July 1, 2017, to the end of Trump’s presidency is well below the more than 5,500 children identified by the American Civil Liberties Union in court filings, based on government information.

The task force said it identified “nearly all” children who were separated under the zero-tolerance policy but will review another 1,723 cases since July 2017, which would bring total cases examined to 5,636, close to the ACLU tally. The discrepancy appears to stem largely from a federal court ruling in San Diego that excluded 1,723 children who were separated for reasons other than Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, such as risk of child endangerment or questions about parentage.

The task force will also try to determine if children were separated during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, starting in January 2017, which was outside the scope of the ACLU lawsuit. That could raise the final number.

Of the 3,913 children, 1,786 have been reunified with a parent, mostly during Trump’s tenure, parents of another 1,695 have been contacted and the whereabouts of 391 have not been established. Many who have been contacted were released to other family members.

The Biden administration has vowed to reunite parents who are still apart from their children, but the pace has been slow and it is unclear how high that number will go. The first four parents were returned to the United States last month, part of what the task force identified as an initial group of 62 people — 28 from Guatemala, 20 from Honduras, 13 from El Salvador and one from Mexico. Administration officials say 29 of the 62 have received final clearances to return to the United States, which should occur after travel arrangements are made.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s immigrant rights project, said he wished the reunifications had happened more quickly but welcomed the Biden administration’s efforts.

“We believe the negotiations we’re having with the administration are constructive and being held in good faith,” Gelernt told reporters. “Our hope is now they’ve put in a process for reunifying people it can be scaled up.”

Gelernt said families not only need to be reunited but provided mental health and support services and compensation. For now, reunited families are being allowed to remain in the United States on a temporary basis, but the ACLU wants the administration to give them a more lasting solution, he said.

“It’s not a permanent status,” he said. “That is foremost in the negotiations.”

The report provided data that hadn’t been previously released. Nearly 60% of children separated under the zero-tolerance policy were Guatemalans (2,270), followed by Hondurans (1,150), Salvadorans (281), Mexicans (75), Brazilians (74) and Romanians (23).

The Border Patrol’s Yuma, Arizona, sector recorded the highest number of separations of the agency’s nine sectors on the Mexican border with 1,114. The Rio Grande Valley in Texas, which dominated media attention as the busiest corridor for illegal crossings by far, was second with 1,025 separations. The El Paso, Texas, sector, which was site of a trial run of the policy in 2017 that was not publicly disclosed at the time, was third with 982 separated children.

___

Associated Press writer Amy Taxin in Orange County contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show the number of parents contacted without being reunified is 1,695, not 1,965.

Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Dharmesh Goradia, and his daughter Vidhi and wife Chaitali, at the 2017 festival for the Godess Durga, held at the Golden Circle. (Photo contributed)
Draft curriculum misses the mark for central Alberta Hindu society

Meeting scheduled with Alberta Education officials

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees who were furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta’s tourism sector hurt by COVID-19 pandemic: ATB Financial

Between border closures, public health measures and hesitancy to travel, Alberta’s tourism… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Most Read