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Civil rights group: 911 children split at US-Mexico border in defiance of court order

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FILE PHOTO: A woman from Honduras and her two children are followed by a US Border Patrol vehicle after illegally crossing into the US from Mexico in Penitas, Texas
FILE PHOTO: A woman from Honduras and her two children are followed by a US Border Patrol vehicle after illegally crossing into the US from Mexico in Penitas, Texas -
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More than 900 children have been separated from their families at the US-Mexico border since a court ordered the administration to halt the policy, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday.

The group said 911 children had been separated from their parents in the past year, including 678 whose parents faced allegations of criminal conduct.

Other reasons include alleged gang affiliation, unfitness or child safety concerns, “unverified familial relationship” or parent illness.

About one of every five children separated is under 5 years old, including babies.

The civil rights group based its findings on reports that the administration provided.

In June 2018, US District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered that the practice of splitting families at the border be halted except in limited circumstances, like concerns about child’s safety. He told the administration to reunite the more than 2,700 children who were in government custody at the time, which has largely been accomplished.

“The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge today to block the Trump administration from continuing to separate hundreds of families in defiance of a previous court order,” the group said in a press release.

Attorney Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said:

“It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents (...) The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations.”

One parent was separated for a $5 theft that resulted in a six-day jail sentence, the ACLU said. Six parents were separated for convictions of marijuana possession. Eight were split for fraud and forgery offences.

A government spreadsheet shows 44 separations were based on assault allegations. In 11 cases, there is no indication that the parent was convicted and 34 don’t indicate the severity of the offence, the ACLU said.