In contrast, Gelernt said, flights coordinated by Health and Human Services officials have been going smoothly, with enough advance notice provided.
Asked by a judge to respond, Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart, who’s representing the government, said ICE was handling a relatively small number of such cases. Sometimes, he said, operational “sensitivity concerns” limit when ICE officials can disclose flight timing information.
“We’ll look at that and see if there’s anything that can be done there,” Stewart said.
US District Judge Dana Sabraw said HHS and ICE officials should coordinate “so that this type of situation does not occur in the future.”
“We’ll work to address that, your honor,” Stewart said. “We take the point.”
ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez declined CNN’s request for comment on the 4-year-old’s case and the reunification process, citing the pending litigation.
Which federal agency handles repatriation flights depends on details of individual cases, Frydman said. ICE has been handling cases that were granted “voluntary departure,” a designation that lets people leave the United States without a deportation order on their records, she said.
Advocates are still struggling to track down parents
For months, officials and advocacy groups have been working to comply with Sabraw’s order to reunite immigrant families the government separated. More than 1,400 were reunified by the court’s July 26 deadline
A major hurdle officials are still facing: reuniting deported parents with kids who remain in custody in the United States.
Officials have said hundreds of parents from separated families were deported without their children.
And tracking down those deported parents has presented major logistical challenges. Even now, Gelernt said, there are 10 parents who advocates haven’t been able to reach.
After making contact, advocates have to determine whether those parents want their kids to return. Some parents have made the heartbreaking choice to remain separated from their children