More than 50 immigrant children separated from their asylum-seeking parents under the new "zero tolerance" immigration policy announced in early May were brought to Michigan, under the care of Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids.
The Michigan children were part of the more than 2,000 separated from parents at the southern border of the United States. After a lawsuit, a federal judge in California set a July 26 deadline for reunification.
The U.S. government said Thursday that it has reunited 1,820 children with their parents or sponsors, and more than 700 parents were deemed not eligible for reunification, the Associated Press reported.
Of the nine children remaining in Michigan, some have parents who decided it would be better for their children to stay in the U.S. because they feel it would be difficult to raise them in Central America, said Susan Reed, supervising attorney for Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, who is representing the children. Many of the immigrants seeking asylum say they were fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Others among the nine remaining children include some who may have family sponsors in the U.S. they could be reunited with. And some may ultimately be reunified with parents who were deported, Reed said.
Some children who have been reunified with their parents have been deported. About 10 children in total taken to Michigan had parents who were deported, Reed said. The U.S. said earlier this week in a court filing that up to 463 parents of the separated children may have been deported.
In a statement released Thursday, Bethany Christian Services, the Grand Rapids foster care agency that took care of the more than 50 kids, said "nearly all" of them have been reunified.
“We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to ensure the safe and timely reunification of parents and their children," said Chris Palusky, President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services. "We are gratified that nine out of every 10 children in Bethany’s care have been reunified with parents, but will not rest until we have met the needs of all of the children in our care."