Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

US to release and reunite 50 migrant children with parents

US to release and reunite 50 migrant children with parents

More than 50 immigrant children under age 5 will be reunited with their parents by Tuesday's court-ordered deadline for action by Trump administration, a government attorney said Monday.

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 US, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.

The group said the administration provided it with a list of 102 children under 5 years old who must be reunited by Tuesday under an order by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego.

The Justice Department has asked for more time to reunite parents - or to be excused from reuniting those who are deemed unfit parents - but Sabraw did not immediately rule on that request Monday.

The infant is one of hundreds of children who have yet to be reunited with their parents, with many separated from their families under the Trump administration's recently rescinded "zero tolerance" family separation policy.

The case includes a broader group of thousands of other children and parents, but the hearing focused largely on the pressing deadline for the children under 5.

"The Government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunifications or burden class members", the Justice Department filing reads.

It was the first time the government indicated whether the parents and children would be released or detained together. "We just don't know how much effort the government's made to find" the parents.

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 20 that he claimed would end family separation, but weeks later, as many as 3,000 children remained away from their parents. While parents were criminally prosecuted, children were placed in custody of the Health and Human Services Department.

"This is real progress, I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow", he told the courtroom. Parents already released into the USA should be reunited with their children within 48 hours of the government contacting them, or within a week for parents already deported, he suggested.

Fabian reportedly said that the reunited families will be released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody ahead of immigration proceedings. Its database has some information about the children's parents but was not created to reunify families by the court's deadline.

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. A second hearing to monitor the reunification process was scheduled for Tuesday. But on Monday, she said nine were removed from the United States and another nine were released here.

"I believe they can reunite some individuals tomorrow, but a major obstacle is their insistence on using the long verification process that was designed for unaccompanied minors", he said, citing the controversial DNA testing and criminal background checks the government is going through prior to returning the young children to their parents.

Sabraw had ordered the July 10 deadline in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt suggested that for those not reunified by Tuesday, the judge could impose more specific deadlines.

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