SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Federal Judge Dana Sabraw urged government-appointed attorneys to continue looking for the parents of 545 children who have been in federal custody since their families were separated at the border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
He wants to see families reunited as soon as possible.
“This, of course, is the most significant piece remaining, the location of these parents,” Sabraw said during a hearing Thursday.
The issue came up in Thursday night’s presidential debate between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.
When moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump if he had a plan for finding the missing parents, he said his administration is working on it.
“We’re trying very hard. But a lot of these kids come up without the parents, they come over through cartels and the coyotes and through gangs,” said the president.
Trump defended his family-separation policy, but also pointed a finger at his predecessor, claiming Barack Obama began the separation policy and that he was only following up on it.
However, Obama had no such policy, and the Trump administration has admitted it began separating families under a pilot program it created in 2017.
The Obama administration separated migrant children from families under certain limited circumstances, like when the child’s safety appeared at risk or when the parent had a serious criminal history.
But family separations as a matter of routine came about because of Trump’s “zero tolerance” enforcement policy, which he eventually suspended because of the uproar.
During the debate, Biden said he will push to find a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. with their parents as children.
Biden said this legislation would be among the first on his agenda.
These children, called “Dreamers,” got a reprieve from President Obama, but it was only temporary. Now many remain in limbo fearing deportation under Trump.
A few months ago, the Supreme Court blocked Trump from canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA as it’s commonly known.
“They’re going to be immediately certified again to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship” rather than “sent home to a country they’ve never seen before,” Biden said. “Many of them are model citizens. Over 20,000 of them are first responders out there taking care of people during this crisis. We owe them.”
Biden admitted the Obama Administration could’ve done more to protect “Dreamers,” saying that “it took too long to get it right.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.