Saturday, December 2, 2023

ACLU after ICE: Claims agency withheld deported parents information from lawyers

The ACLU is claiming that ICE for more than a month purposefully withheld hundreds of migrant parents’ contact information from their lawyers.

“The numbers have been [in the children’s files] for a while, and we should have had them for a while,” Lee Gelernt, the lead lawyer for the ACLU’s lawsuit against ICE, told HuffPost. “Every day that we didn’t get them is another day we didn’t track parents down [and] weeks and months, potentially, where kids are potentially by themselves.”

The ACLU made the allegation to HuffPost this week after it said the government finally gave it phone numbers for more than 400 parents who had been separated from their children under the President’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Gelernt also said that he believes ICE had access to the phone numbers before the court-ordered family reunification deadline on July 26. He added that the government eventually handed over the phone numbers on Aug. 7, which was about a week after it was asked to do so by the ACLU and a judge.

The news report from HuffPost came the same day that ICE said in a court filing that the government has more than 300 children in custody whose parents are outside the U.S. About 1,500 migrant children have been reunited with their families since the Trump administration halted the controversial process of separating children from their parents.

The administration continues to face pressure from groups like the ACLU and lawmakers on how it will reunite every family that was separated.