565 2,089
Children separated as of Children who have been reunited or released

The Trump administration’s decision to criminally prosecute all adults crossing the southern border led to the separation of more than 2,500 children from their parents or other adults this spring. After President Trump halted the separations on June 20, a federal judge ordered the government to reunite all children under age 5 with their families by July 12 and all older children by July 26.

Percentage of children reunited or released

*This chart does not include the 103 children under the age of five. Consistent data is not available for that group.

The government, which did not have a reunification plan in place at the time of the judge’s order, says it is returning all children whose parents have been located and cleared through background checks. But as of , children remain stripped from their parents or guardians and in government custody.

“The reality is, for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw told the federal government at an Aug. 3 hearing about reunifying separated families.

Below, we break down the reasons these children remain separated from their families.

Reunited or released from government custody

The government counts a child in this category if they have been reunited with their parents, released to another family member or sponsor, or have turned 18 since being placed in government custody. The majority of children now fall in this category.

Parent was released, is still in custody or their location is under review

The largest group of children yet to be reunited consists of those who crossed the border with adults who have since left the U.S. voluntarily or were deported, were released into the U.S. interior, remain in government custody or whose locations are otherwise under review.

Of these adults, most (366 as of Aug 16) are currently outside the U.S.

[U.S. officials separated him from his child. Then he was deported to El Salvador.]

Parent indicated desire against reunification or waived reunification rights

Another group is children whose parents indicated a desire not to reunify with them. This category appears to include adults who the government says waived their right to reunification, as well as others whose case files indicate they do not want to be reunified. The number increased considerably in the first week of August, as the government made contact with hundreds of parents who are now outside the United States while their children remain in U.S. government custody.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the lawsuit that led to the reunification order, has filed court papers alleging that many parents signed forms waiving their reunification rights while separated from their children and under duress this spring or without understanding them.

Red flag triggered by a background check or case file

“Red flags” from background checks on parents could include things such as criminal histories, abuse allegations or smaller civil offenses. Red flags can also be triggered by questions about the relationship between the adult and child, including waiting for pending DNA results or the need for additional documentation of their parental relationship.

Other unspecified litigation prevents reunification

Other groups besides the ACLU have also brought lawsuits against the government for its handling of child migrants and their families. In some of these cases, attorneys have barred the government from releasing a child until certain conditions are resolved, such as documenting when and where a child was taken into custody.

About this story

Data was collected from weekly joint status reports containing information from the Department of Health and Human Services that were filed with the U.S. District Court of Southern California. The total number of children in each category may add up to more than the number of separated children because parents may be classified in more than category (e.g., both waived reunification rights and were deported).

On Aug. 17, numbers in this graphic were updated to include 103 “tender-age” children under the age of 5, for whom up-to-date data was previously unavailable.

Originally published Aug. 8, 2018.

Share

Most Read

Follow Post Graphics