Officials revealed in a court filing that it could take up to two years for the government to identify thousands of additional immigrant family members that were separated by US authorities at the southern border.
According to CNN, the government proposed a plan that provided a strategy for figuring out the identity of people who were separated by combing through thousands of records using a mix of manual review and data analysis.
Last year, Trump’s administration enforced a zero-tolerance policy, which eventually led to the separation of thousands of immigrant families and child detentions. In fact, just last month a federal judge ruled that a group of previously unaccounted immigrants who were affected by the separation could be included in a class action suit against the government.
While the order is a major blow for the current administration, there are key factors that complicate the process of reuniting families.
All the children from this group of separated families have already been released from government custody.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t start tracking separated families as a searchable data set in its records before April 19, 2018.
A manual review alone would overwhelm the existing resources as there are nearly 50,000 case files.
The government is, therefore, proposing to use data analysis to comb through records and find the ones that are most likely to be separated children and then work to review each case to find family members manually.
Officials are estimating that this process would take a minimum of 12 months and a possible maximum of 24 months to complete.
As of March 25, 2019, the government has discharged 2,749 of the 2,814 possible children of class lawsuit members.