Migrant children who had been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border were still waiting Friday to be reunited with loved ones even though the White House's deadline to bring families together passed at midnight.
The Trump administration said Thursday that more than 1,800 children 5 years and older had been reunited with parents or sponsors hours before the deadline. That included 1,442 children who were returned to parents who were in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, and another 378 who were released under a variety of other circumstances.
But about 700 more remain separated, including 431 whose parents were deported, officials say. Those reunions take more time, effort and paperwork as authorities fly children back to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a joint status report late Thursday night.
The ACLU blasted the Trump administration for marking more than 900 parents from the list as ineligible for reunification, including the more than 400 parents who were already deported.
The National Center for Youth Law said there are several key issues that complicate the process of reunification.
First, ICE tends to move people in its custody, sometimes several times and many times without notice. Even immigration attorneys don’t know where their clients are and there is the issue of just tracking down the parents or the kids.
There is also a language barrier, which only adds to the confusion to an already complicated immigration process.
"First it's in a different language that they don't speak and even after that there is an immigration court proceeding, there is a criminal proceeding they are being subjected to because of zero tolerance," said Efren Olivares of Texas Civil Rights Project.
The National Center for Youth Law, who has been very critcal of President trump's zero tolerance policy, referred to the whole process as a giant maze designed to make things impossible for immigrants.
Some have outright blamed the Trump Administration of more than just incompetence.
Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz told the LA Times Friday that "the government blew its Thursday deadline to reunite these families because it never intended to do so."
While the Obama administration had also been separating families, critics argue that President Trump's zero tolerance policy expanded the scope of arresting and prosecuting.
Congressman Mark Desaulnier, D-Calif., said he visited a detention facility last week in Contra Costa County.
Desaulnier said another immigration issue is the private detention which are making huge profits under the current system.