U.S. Says It Could Take 2 Years to Identify Up to Thousands of Separated Immigrant Families

According to this article from the New York Times, "it may take federal officials two years to identify what could be thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their families at the southern United States border, the government said in court documents filed on Friday." In the spring of 2018, the US government revealed its "zero-tolerance" policy in which "all adults entering the country illegally were prosecuted and any children accompanying them were put into shelters or foster care." A federal judge has since requested the government develop a plan to identify these separated children and reunite them with their families.

The article describes the plan that the government has outlined, which arose from a class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. A January report from the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that there was a group of separated families who were unaccounted for because the government lacked an effective tracking system. In March, the judge, Judge Dana M. Sabraw, ruled that these families should be included in the litigation. Lee Gelernt from the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that a two-year wait to reunify these separated families would be "devastating." "The longer these children remained separated from their families, he said, the more psychological trauma they would endure."