Nearly 150 Separated Migrant Children Remain in U.S. Custody

Parents of most of the children are no longer in the country

A young girl participates in a CASA in Action rally on June 27 in downtown Washington to protest the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that separated children from their families at the southern border. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One-hundred and forty-seven undocumented migrant children separated from their parents because of President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance border security policy remained in government custody as of Nov. 6, a new government report said.

Thirty of the children are currently ineligible for reuniting because their parents were deemed unfit for posing a threat to the child or having a criminal record, said the report to Congress by the Health and Human Services Department.

An additional 117 have not been reunited because their parents are no longer in the U.S., said the report, which was released by Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for HHS funding.

“What is going to be the effect on the children whose parents were deported or made the tragic decision to waive reunification because they fear for their child’s safety in their home country?” asked DeLauro in a statement. “What exactly were the offenses of the 30 parents who are not eligible to be reunited?”

She continued: “It has been at least seven months since the Trump administration began traumatizing thousands of families and they still have not fully resolved this tragedy.”

The administration separated more than 2,600 children from their parents from April to June before Trump ended the policy and a judge ordered the families to be reunited. The cost of caring for the children and reuniting them with their families has reached $80 million, the report said.

The 11-page report was required by Congress as part of the 2019 spending bill for the Health and Human Services and Defense departments.

House Democrats are expected to conduct oversight hearings into the family separations when they take control of the chamber in January. An October report by the Government Accountability Office found that HHS and the Homeland Security Department were blindsided when the Justice Department announced the policy and that HHS mishandled the database used to keep track of the separated children.

Scott Lloyd, who led the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the division of HHS tasked with caring for the separated children, said last week he was leaving his post for a lower office within the department.

Andrew Siddons contributed to this report.

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