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Migrants wait to apply for asylum in the United States outside the El Chaparral border in Tijuana, Mexico July 24, 2019. Photo by: Carlos Jasso/Reuters

ACLU: Over 900 children were separated from their families after court order to stop

SAN DIEGO (AP) — More than 900 children have been separated from their families at the border since a judge ordered that the practice be sharply curtailed, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday.

The group said 911 children had been separated from their families from June 28, 2018, to June 29 of this year. They include 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.

In June 2018, U.S. 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 ACLU, which based its findings on reports that the administration provided, asked that the judge order the government to clarify its criteria for splitting families.

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 offenses.

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 offense, the ACLU said.

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