- The Trump administration will reunite 54 children under the age of 5 by a court-imposed Tuesday deadline.
- This is around half the number of young children who the government was ordered to reunite with their families by July 10.
- Despite this, a judge has said she was “encouraged” by the government’s actions to reunite these children and she granted an extension for the remaining young children.
- Nine parents of the young children have already been deported.
The Trump administration will have reunited 54 children under the age of 5 with their families by a court-ordered deadline of Tuesday.
This is half the number of the roughly 100 children aged under 5 who were separated at the US-Mexico border and were legally required to be reunited by July 10. A judge in San Diego issued the order last month, and gave the the government until July 26 to reunite approximately 2,000 older children with their families.
A government lawyer told a judge on Monday that they would not meet the deadline because, among a number of reasons, 9 parents have already been deported and a further 9 were released from ICE somewhere in the US. The government is unsure when these children will be reunited with their families.
Despite this, District Judge Dana Sabraw said she was “very encouraged” by the government’s progress.
“There’s no question that the parties are meeting and conferring,” she said. “I’m optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and then we’ll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what time-frame will be in place.”
Sabraw then extended the deadline to reunite the remaining children became some cases “will necessitate additional time.”
The government said last week that it knew the 86 parents of 83 of the children, but only 46 were still in detention. Attorneys also reportedly argued that the government shouldn’t have to reunite children with their deported parents, but the court did not agree.
On Monday, a different court rejected the government’s request to allow long-term detention of illegal immigrant children, meaning that all reunited children and their parents will likely be released from facilities.
The children were initially separated from their parents under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy which saw adults illegally enter the US referred for criminal prosecution and lose custody of their children, many of whom were then moved to facilities around the country.
The government has been criticised for its haphazard implementation of the policy which has led to parents complaints that they are unable to find their children, let alone be reunited. The government has resorted to using DNA tests to identify and reunite separated children.
“It is very troubling that there are children and parents who are not in some kind of government tracking system,” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said after the court hearing.
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