SAN DIEGO – On Friday, a judge urged that the ‘U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents so it could reunite them with their children’, who remain in the United States following separation by officials.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw said at a court hearing in San Diego, “the government deserved credit for the 1,820 children released from custody to a parent or sponsor. However, he urged officials to focus on the 711 children who remain separated after the government deemed their parent’s ineligible because they were deported, the government was unable to find them in the United States or the parent failed a background check”.

At Friday’s hearing, Sabraw said, “The focus has to be on the parents removed without their children and the up to 52 parents released to the interior without their children”. The government had declared it had met a court-ordered deadline to reunite families separated during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy” aimed at discouraging illegal immigration.

The government has said it has given every detained parent notice of their legal rights, and contact information for an attorney.

The parents were “effectively being tortured” by the knowledge they accidentally signed forms waiving the right to their child, Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said after the hearing. During Friday’s hearing, Sabraw seemed most concerned with allegations that 120 parents who the government said had waived their right to reunification might have misunderstood what they were signing or felt coerced.

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