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  • Ostavio, 5, from Guatemala, rests on the shoulders of his brother Eduardo as they walk through a field in hopes of finding refuge in the United States.

    Ostavio, 5, from Guatemala, rests on the shoulders of his brother Eduardo as they walk through a field in hopes of finding refuge in the United States. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 April 2019

It’ll take a year to sift through the 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children, the Justice Department said.

Immigration officials need at least two years to identify the thousands of children separated from parents at the Mexican-U.S. border, the Trump Administration said in a court filing Friday.

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“Defendants estimate that identifying all possible children … would take at least 12 months, and possibly up to 24 months,” the government statement said, explaining reuniting families may be a more difficult task than expected as the children are no longer in government custody.

According to the report filed by the Justice Department, it’ll take a year to sift through the 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children taken into custody between July 2017 and June 2018, organizing files by age and other similar characteristics.

In a tweet, the American Civil Liberties Union- an organization that sued the U.S. government last year in order to push the state to reunite families- wrote, “The administration refuses to treat the family separation crisis it created with urgency. We strongly oppose any plan that gives the government up to two years to find kids.”

Following U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw’s ruling last year which ended the separation of children from parents, the majority of children were trusted to the custody of close relatives. However later reports revealed that border patrol agents continued to seperate families, the Trump Administration admitted in a statement March 7.

The administration disclosed, in a court filing, that the government deported 471 migrant parents who had been separated from their children at the U.S-Mexico border.

In February, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a 290 percent rise in arrests of immigrant families along the borderline.

The apprehensions of minors, who arrived without a companion, grew from 14,390 in the first three months of the 2018 fiscal year to 20,123 in the 2019 fiscal year, which means an increase of 40%.

The month before, research from the International Organization for Migration (OIM) revealed that at least 4,592 people died or went missing trying to cross some of the main migratory routes across the world during 2018.

The organization, backed by the United Nations, published its report Tuesday, saying the number of dead or missing migrants surpassed the 3,000 mark for the fifth time. The list, however, is yet to be completed as the OIM is still collecting data.

Lee Gelernt, ACLU's leading attorney, said, “The government was able to quickly gather resources to tear these children away from their families and now they need to gather the resources to fix the damage.”

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