Lawyers Say Parents of 545 Migrant Children Separated at U.S. Border Still Can’t Be Found

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Lawyers representing hundreds of migrant children who were separated from their parents due to a 2018 Trump administration policy say they are having trouble locating the adults. Some of the migrant adults were deported back to Central America without their children, the lawyers say.

In a court filing by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Oct. 21 obtained by NBC News, lawyers stated that the parents of 545 migrant children have yet to be tracked down. Two-thirds of the adults may have been deported back to Central America thanks to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

The policy, which sparked backlash, separated 2,800 families at the U.S. border, NBC News reported. Many of the families remained in custody until the policy ended under an executive order. Although the policy was scrapped, it left the ACLU and other immigrant rights organizations with the task of reuniting the children with their parents.

"It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, told NBC News. "There is so much more work to be done to find these families.

"People ask when we will find all of these families, and sadly, I can't give an answer. I just don't know," Gelernt continued. "But we will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families, no matter how long it takes. The tragic reality is that hundreds of parents were deported to Central America without their children, who remain here with foster families or distant relatives."

RAICES, the nonprofit immigration rights organization, wrote on Twitter that the organization was at a loss of words following NBC’s latest report.

“We have no words... Headline after headline of tragic news and this administration continues to act with impunity. Don't become numb to these abuses, take action,” the organization wrote.

Trump Administration Shows Lack of Empathy for Migrant Children

Earlier this month, a recording of First Lady Melania Trump from July 2018 was released by The New York Times. In the secret recordings given to The Times by a former White House aid, the first lady used profanity and complained about the criticism Trump and the administration received on their immigration crackdown.

“I say that I’m working on Christmas planning for the Christmas, and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children?’ That they were separated,” she said. “Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?”

In June 2018, the First Lady was criticized for wearing a designer jacket with the words “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” while she was on the way to visit immigrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. In an interview with ABC News, she claimed the jacket directed at “the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me.”