Trump administration reunification efforts are 'unacceptable,' says judge

LOS ANGELES — The judge overseeing the court-ordered reunification of the 2,551 migrant children separated from their parents at the border blasted the Trump administration Friday for its lack of a plan to reunify the remaining 572 children in its custody with their parents and the slow pace of progress.

In a Thursday night status report filing, the Trump administration said only 13 of the parents had been located by the ACLU, which Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District of California called "unacceptable at this point."

The parents of 410 children are currently outside of the United States, likely having been deported before reunification, according to the court filing.

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Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas
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Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: Jenquel, who recently crossed the U.S., Mexico border with her mother and siblings, speaks with volunteers at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: A Honduran child plays at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border with his father on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: Wearing an ankle monitor bracelet, a woman who identified herself as Jennifer sits at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: Recently arrived migrant families speak with volunteers at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: A woman who idendtified herself as Jennifer sits with her son Jaydan at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 19: After receiving assistance from the Catholic Charities RGV Humanitarian Respite Center, migrant families from Mexico and Central America wait in line at the Central Station Bus Terminal to obtain bus tickets for transport to various destinations across the United States on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in McAllen, TX. The families have been granted access to the United States while they await hearings or seek asylum. Waves of migrants from Mexico and Central America continue to seek refuge in the United States amid the growing uproar over the decision to separate migrant families at the U.S./Mexico border. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: Jenquel, who recently crossed the U.S., Mexico border with her mother and siblings, speaks with volunteers at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: A woman who idendtified herself as Jennifer sits with her son Jaydan at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: A Honduran father and son relax at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process, they are brought to the Humanitarian Respite Center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and get guidance to their next destination. Before Trump signed an executive order yesterday that the administration says halts the practice of separating families seeking asylum, more than 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: Jennifer holds a cross while sitting with her son Jaydan at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen after recently crossing the border on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released from Customs and Border Protection to continue their legal process they are brought to the Humanitarian Respite Center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and to get guidance to their next destination. Before President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that halts the practice of separating families who were seeking asylum, over 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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The Trump administration had proposed the ACLU take the lead in locating and identifying what the judge had called "missing parents" of children still in government custody. Sabraw said that plan was not acceptable and placed that responsibility squarely on the government.

"Many of these parents were removed from the country without their child," Sabraw said. "All of this is the result of the government's separation and then inability and failure to track and reunite. And the reality is that for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child. And that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration."

The judge said he would soon issue an order to compel the government to provide information on still separated families to the ACLU no later than August 10.

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Sabraw said the government must identify a person or team to oversee the remaining reunification process, potentially from the State Department or the Department of Health and Human Services, and produce a plan as to how reunification would be accomplished.

Sabraw also said he would order the ACLU to organize a steering committee to provide a plan as to how it would use the information provided by the government to locate the remaining parents.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said the judge was extremely clear in stating that parents with minor criminal charges could be excluded only from the pool that was required to be reunited by his deadline and should not be permanently ineligible for reunification.

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