On Thursday, the Trump administration failed to meet the deadline for reunifying children and parents who were separated due to the "zero tolerance" immigration policy. As a result of the missed deadline, many people are wondering how many migrant families are still separated, and why the Trump administration hasn't been able to reunite all of the children with their parents. Unfortunately, the number of children still separated from their parents is staggering.
As of July 26, more than 700 parents are currently deemed not eligible, both for permanent and temporary reasons. According to TIME, many of those more than 700 parents have actually been deported. Approximately 431 detained children are reported to have parents who are currently outside of the United States.
Though the Trump administration missed the deadline, it's still unclear what the exact punishment will be for the government, or if there will be one at all. There's also no official plan for how the government will reunite children with parents who have been deported and are not easily located. Lastly, there's no official plan for what the government will do with the children whose parents have been deemed "ineligible" for reunification, and who don't have any other sponsors to take them in.
When it comes down to the punishment for missing the deadline, either Judge Dana Sabraw or the ACLU would be the decider in creating and enforcing a punishment, per CNN. As of Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union hasn't specified any hypothetical punishment that has been proposed for a missed deadline. What's more, Judge Sabraw has indicated happiness with what the government has done so far, even though it wasn't what he had demanded.
Two days before the July 26 deadline, Judge Sabraw called the efforts of the Trump administration "great progress" after finding out that approximately 1,606 children would soon be ready for reunification. Sabraw said, "I am very impressed with the effort that’s being made. It really does appear that there has been great progress toward reunification.”
Given Sabraw's comments, it seems unlikely that he would bestow a punishment on the government for not meeting the deadline.
As for children of deported parents, many are wondering how the government will be able to track down those individuals, if at all. Members of the administration insisted that the parents who were deported had to have signed off their knowledge that their kids would be left behind, but it stands to question how much those parents actually knew of what they were signing, given the language barrier.
In fact, the ACLU claims that some parents were intentionally misled when they signed those forms. One lawyer said in an affidavit, via The Washington Post, "One father was told that if he didn’t sign the form presented to him, then he would not see his daughter again."
Trump has not yet made a statement about the government failing to reach the reunification deadline, nor has Judge Sabraw, who will be in charge of determining next steps for the government.