WASHINGTON—Just 57 of the 103 children under the age of 5 who were separated at the border recently were eligible to be reunited with the adults who brought them, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
On June 26, a federal judge in San Diego ordered that parents and children who had been separated after crossing the border illegally should be reunited within 30 days—or 14 days if the child is under 5.
The 57 had successfully been reunited by early July 12, just beyond the July 10 deadline.
However, during the reunification process, the DHS discovered that 46 of the children were not eligible to be reunified due to issues with the adult—including safety concerns, which equals almost 45 percent of the cases.
Seven adults were determined not to be a parent, while another 11 have serious criminal histories, including charges or convictions for child cruelty, kidnapping, murder, human smuggling, and domestic violence.
One adult was going to house the child with an individual known to have been charged with child sexual abuse, according to DHS.
The heads of the agencies working on the reunifications issued a statement on July 12 after the reunifications were complete.
“Throughout the reunification process our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Our agencies’ careful vetting procedures helped prevent the reunification of children with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child.
“Certain facts remain: The American people gave this administration a mandate to end the lawlessness at the border, and President Trump is keeping his promise to do exactly that. Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn.”