ACLU says less than half of child reunions will meet deadline

Posted July 11, 2018

These parents have, according to DHS officials, been fitted with electronic monitoring bracelets and released into the United States because they brought children with them, illegally, across the USA border.

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The American Civil Liberties Union said it appears the Trump administration will miss a court-ordered deadline to reunite young children who were separated at the border with their parents in more than half of the cases.

Dana Sabraw, a federal judge in California, gave the administration until Tuesday to reunite children under five years old, and until July 26 to reunify older children.

More than 50 children under age 5 could be back in the arms of their parents by the deadline at the end of the day, the Justice Department said. On Monday, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian told a federal court in San Diego that at least 54 children - and as many as 59 - will be reunited with their families in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Rodriguez said the commander running the shelter at Tornillo told him that none of the children there would be housed at Fort Bliss, one of two Texas military bases that the Pentagon has said will likely house thousands of immigrants who have been apprehended at the border.

As for most of the rest of the under-5 children who have yet to reunited with their families, Fabian said that their parents have already been released into the U.S., have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.

Six of the 102 children are not eligible for reunification because they have a parent with a criminal history or were separated from someone who is not their parent.

"Let me be clear, HHS could have transferred every child in HHS care to a parent if we did not take into account child safety", Meekins said.

Friday's hearing was the latest in the ACLU lawsuit over the administration's family separations.

It was the largest single effort to date to undo the effects of President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance policy of separating families who try to slip across the Mexican border into the country. "Don't come to our country illegally", he said.

"It's extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parents".

For the parents and children who have been brought back together, thecelebrations may be short-lived.

In a seven-page order, the judge called that request "a cynical attempt, on an ex parte basis, to shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate". Federal officials have said somewhere "under 3,000" migrant children have been separated overall, but their numbers have varied.

To speed the reunions and reduce confusion, Sabraw had ordered the government to provide a list of the separated children's names to the ACLU over the weekend.

"There's no question that the parties are meeting and conferring", she said.

Nine have parents who were released already from ICE custody and are somewhere in the US.

"I believe that they can still reunite some [more] individuals by tomorrow", Gelernt said during the hearing.

Sacchetti reported from Washington and Perry reported from San Diego.