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The US decided to keep 46 kids under five separated from their families. Here’s why

Darwin Micheal Mejia, right, holds hands with his mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, during a news conference following their reunion at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Friday, June 22, 2018, in Linthicum, Md. The Justice Department agreed to release Mejia-Mejia's son after she sued the U.S. government in order to be reunited following their separation at the U.S. border. She has filed for political asylum in the U.S. following a trek from Guatemala. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Not all kids will be reunited.
  • Ana Campoy
By Ana Campoy

Deputy editor, global finance and economics

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The Trump administration said today that it has reunited 57 of the 103 children under five years old who were separated from their parents. It also announced that 46 would not be immediately returned to their families.

A federal court had ordered the government to return all kids under five years old to their parents by July 10, a deadline it missed by two days for most of the children. But Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said they couldn’t fulfill the order for some kids, arguing that reuniting them would put the kids at risk.

Some of the parents, DHS said, had been convicted or were accused of crimes such as kidnapping, murder, and human smuggling. Other adults who brought the children to the US weren’t their parents. In a dozen cases, the child’s parent has already been deported.

Here’s DHS’s breakdown of why it’s keeping some children:

ReasonNumber of cases
Deported adults12
Adults have serious criminal history11
Adults are in US Marshals Service custody9
Adult is not the parent7
Adults are in state jail custody2
Falsified birth certificate1
Alleged child abuse1
Planned to house the child with an adult charged with sexually abusing the child1
Adult is being treated with a communicable disease1
Adult’s location unknown1

It’s unclear when or if these children will be reunited with their parents. The officials said they are working with consular officials from the deported parents’ countries to get the families back together. According to the government, those parents were given the option of getting their children before being sent back, but they all declined.

The government still has to meet another deadline, on July 26, to return all the remaining children older than five. That group is much larger: about 3,000.

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