Families separated by the border between Mexico and the United States meet this morning at the Rio Grande, where they hug for four minutes. – Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, 06-24-2017 (Shutterstock)
By Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff, NBC News
WASHINGTON — The lawyers working to reunite immigrant parents and children separated by the Trump administration reported Wednesday that they have found the parents of 105 children in the past month.
The steering committee of pro-bono lawyers and advocates working on reunification said it had yet to find the parents of 506 children, down from 611 on Jan. 14, the last time it reported data to a federal judge overseeing the process.
The lawyers said the parents of about 322 of the 506 children are believed to have been deported, making it more difficult to find them. The lawyers are not required by the judge to say how many of the parents and children have been reunited.
The Biden administration recently formed a task force that will place the responsibility of finding and reuniting the families separated by the Trump administration, primarily under the “zero-tolerance policy” of 2018, in the hands of the federal government. In their court filing Wednesday, lawyers representing the separated families and working to reunite them said they would work with the task force.
Lawyers for the Justice Department said they expect the task force to “resolve many — if not all — outstanding issues” related to the lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of California, that resulted in the reunification process.
One reason it has been so hard to find parents is that many agreed to be deported without their children to allow their children to remain in the U.S. to claim asylum, their lawyers say.
A lawyer representing the separated families in the lawsuit, Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, has said the task force should commit to bring the deported parents back to the U.S. under special protections to reunite with their children.