The issue of reunification is more complicated than many would like to admit.
The Trump administration announced Thursday that it completed the initial reunifications for children under 5 years old. However, there’s a catch. Only 57 out of the 103 children under 5 were reunified with their families.
The remaining 46 children were ineligible for many reasons, which were included in a statement released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
As of this morning, the initial reunifications were completed. Throughout the reunification process our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment. As the numbers demonstrate, this work is necessary. https://t.co/bzFVH1sJJz pic.twitter.com/dKDEi47GFl
— Alex Azar (@SecAzar) July 12, 2018
Of the 46 children, 23 of them are ineligible because their parents have either been deported or are in the custody of the U.S. government.
That number is not surprising, but many are outraged over the separation of immigrant families.
Dear @SecNielsen: You never had a plan for reunification when your officials forcibly ripped toddlers away from parents. You also brazenly lied to the American people when you said there was no such policy.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) July 7, 2018
Yet the rest of the children were not reunified because of reasons regarding their protection and safety. According to the HHS statement, 22 of the children were not eligible because of safety concerns.
These safety concerns include parents who had a serious criminal history, those who were determined not to be the parent of the child, or those who were found to be abusive. Additionally, the location of one child’s parent had not been known for over a year.
Many politicians and civil rights groups are pushing for the Trump administration to reunite all children back with their parents, and the ACLU has filed a class-action lawsuit in order to expedite the reunification process.
The issue of separating immigrant families is serious, and in many cases, the children should be given back to their parents. Yet it should not go unrecognized that a few of these children may have been protected from a terrible future.