The Department of Justice said Tuesday that a family possibly containing U.S. citizens was separated as a part of immigration enforcement.
The revelation comes as the Department of Justice struggles to meet a federal judge’s deadlines for reuniting nearly 3,000 children separated from their families, most under the president’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that went into full effect in May.
On Tuesday, government officials filed a joint status update with the American Civil Liberties Union containing reunification scenarios for 102 children under the age of 5.
The document says that one child cannot be reunited because the parent’s location “has been unknown for more than a year.” The document states, “records show the parent and child might be U.S. citizens.”
Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, criticized the government’s record keeping, according to The Guardian.
“It actually happens much more frequently than you would believe,” he said. “They (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) make mistakes.”
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered that 63 children under age 5 be reunited by Tuesday night. All other minors must be reunited by July 26, he has ruled.
Department of Justice lawyers asked for an extension of Tuesday’s deadline, saying federal agencies acted as quickly as possible but face a daunting challenge that includes complicated cases.
During a court hearing Tuesday, Sabraw told the government his deadlines were firm, not “aspirational goals.”
Contributing: Alan Gomez, USA TODAY