WASHINGTON, DC — Below is a statement by U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin on the federal government failing to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunify separated families:

“As America’s mayors, leaders and parents, we are disappointed by the news that federal authorities are unable to comply with a June 26 federal court order that directed them by Tuesday, July 10 to reunite the children under five years old separated from their parents at the border. These children — some infants — were forcibly separated from parents or other family members at the border under the Zero Tolerance policy, creating a national crisis of the Administration’s own making.

Some of these children have been taken thousands of miles from the point of separation at the border. The federal government has not properly kept track of many of the children and parents, and they have not been clear and forthcoming about the conditions under which the children have been living and the care they have been receiving.

Nearly three weeks ago, the U.S. Conference of Mayors brought a bipartisan delegation of 18 mayors to Tornillo, TX, where they stood outside the tent city and urged the federal government to quickly and openly reunite all of the children with their families. Last week, 140 bipartisan mayors from 35 states and the District of Columbia sent an open letter to the President and Congress, which also made such a plea.  The mayors further called for passage of bipartisan legislation that will fix our nation’s broken immigration system – legislation that would help to make sure that such a travesty will never happen again.

It is hard to believe this could happen in America — a nation built by immigrants and refugees and continually reenergized by both.  We once again urge this Administration to quickly and transparently reunite all of the children – both those under five and the older children. It is our hope that America will give these families a fair chance to realize the American dream.  America’s mayors stand ready to do everything in our power to help these children find the way back to the loving, concerned arms of their parents.”