The parents of 61 migrant children separated from their families by the Trump administration on the US-Mexico border have been in since February, but lawyers still cannot find the parents of 445 children, according to a judicial declaration on Wednesday.
In the filing, the Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union indicated that there has been slow progress in the ongoing efforts to reunite families affected by a policy of prosecuting all undocumented immigrants in the United States, even if it meant that children should be separated from their parents.
The update in the reunification efforts comes as the Biden administration is struggling to address a growing number of migrants seeking entry into the United States on the border with Mexico, including many children being held in jails longer than the law allows due to overcrowding. .
Of the 445 remaining children, a majority are believed to have parents who have been deported, while more than 100 children reportedly have parents who are currently in the United States, the court's indictment said. The government has not yet provided contact information to help locate the families of more than a dozen children.
While the court's indictment says that U.S. agencies and the A.C.L.U. continue to work together to reunite the families, the effort has shown more difficult as time goes on. The first searches began years ago, under the Trump administration, after the family separation policy was repealed in the summer of 2018.
Only a fraction of the approximately 2,700 children initially separated under the policy are still left, and President Biden has indicated that reuniting those remaining children with their families is a priority. During his first week in office, Mr. Biden issued an executive order to establish a task force led by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, to focus on reuniting families.
Advocates for families separated at the border during the Trump administration continue to press the president to act faster to reunite them. Lee Gelernt, an A.C.L.U. The attorney who has waged a lengthy legal battle against Mr Trump's secession policy said some progress had been made, but much more needed to be done.
"We and the Biden administration still have a tremendous amount of work to do if we are to remedy the Trump administration's terrible abuse of family expansion," he said.