In a court document filed Thursday as part of the ongoing lawsuit over separated families, the Justice Department suggested the American Civil Liberties Union should use its “network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers and others” to find the parents with information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The administration is proposing that every Monday, the ACLU would share any new information about the parents it locates, including whether they wish to be reunited with their children.
The ACLU says its eager to help locate the parents but argued that the government “must bear the ultimate burden of finding the parents,” the document states.
“Not only was it the government’s unconstitutional separation practice that led to this crisis, but the United States Government has far more resources than any group of NGOs,” ACLU attorneys wrote.
The two sides also continue to disagree about what information is appropriate and necessary for the government to provide. The government continues to resist giving the ACLU the entire case files of separated parents for the groups to use to track down parents. Instead, they propose delivering a list of information that the ACLU has said was a non-exhaustive list.
“Relatedly, Plaintiffs believe that the Government should be taking the initiative to continually provide Plaintiffs with whatever useful information they possess, without constantly waiting for Plaintiffs to request specific information, especially because the Government knows better than Plaintiffs what types of information are contained in various files and databases,” the filing says.
The ACLU claimed the government has been in contact with some deported parents, but it’s not clear why they have not shared information with the nonprofit. The ACLU says it tracked down 12 deported parents only to find out they were already in contact with the government, the filing says.
In a supplemental court filing, the administration said 410 children who remain in custody have parents who are no longer in the United States.