According to numbers released last Thursday evening, of the approximate 2551 children and youth eligible for reunification, HHS had identified 386 children with parents who have been removed and in another country. HHS indicated that through the Office of Refugee Resettlement parents of 299 children had been contacted by that point. The Administration informed Judge Dana Sabraw that they were also forming a working group within the Administration to effect the reunification.
The ACLU has also formed a steering group to assist in the reunification with the groups Kids in Need of Defense, the Women’s Refugee Commission and Justice in Motion part of that ACLU led effort. The Department of Justice has said that 163 parents have indicated a desire against reunification. Critics question what that means. In early August Judge Sabraw told the Administration that “The reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the Administration.”
DACA—While that action was taking place through a California based court, in Washington DC and in Texas two separate desicions were moving forward regarding either the extension or elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligible children, youth and adults. Already two courts in California and in New York state had ruled agaainst the Administration and its attempts to eliminate DACA. The issue became more complex last week in a way that could force a short Supreme Court of eight members to act—or not.
First Judge John Bates, Washington DC Circuit Court directed the Administration to re-institute DACA. He gave the Administration a twenty day period (August 23) to respond why they should not fully re-enforce DACA –a broader coverage then currently now in existence. A few days later, Judge Andrew Hanen, Souther District Court based in Texas announced he will take up a Texas state led case that is joined by several other Republican-led states that is asking the court to rule DACA illegal and ban it totally. He is expected to take up the case this Wednesday. Judge Hanen is viewed as hostile on some immigration issues including DACA and many observors believe he will direct the Administration to stop DACA through an injunction.
Such conflicting district court action means that the Supreme Court will step in to rule on the different interpetations of the law. Some legal observors see this as a rare if ever circumstance because you not only have different court rulings but the ruling directing immediate action to take place.
If the Supreme Court issues an immediate directive it would take five justices to issue a temporary action. The Supreme Court now stands at eight members with Justice Kennedy already in retirement. What will happen is unclear. Perhaps five justices will agree to put everything on some sort of temporary fix until they can review the sitaution at some point when there is a full court depending on how fast the Senate moves this fall—if it moves.
All of this comes against a backdrop of the next election. What happens is anyones guess.