Judge Says US Must Reunite Migrant Families Or Face Penalties

AUSTIN TX- JUNE 30 A demonstrator uses baby clothes to spell out the word

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw told government attorneys he expects the deadline for reuniting children under age 5 with their families to be met. According to official records, there are at least 84 children under 5 years old that were separated from parents.

In a court hearing on Tuesday, Sabraw said he wouldn't extend the reunification deadline and that 63 other families should be reunited soon after Tuesday, The Huffington Post reported.

Two weeks have passed since President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end his administration's policy of separating undocumented immigrant children and parents, but chaos still reigns at the border and across the country as family reunification has hit roadblocks.

It was not immediately clear the government was also preparing to release qualifying parents with children over five to alternative to detention programs with ankle monitors. Those "impediments" included deportation of a parent or "safety and suitability screenings" that were ongoing.

One of them might be a child of a US citizen, the Justice Department acknowledged Tuesday when it notified a federal judge about the progress being made to complete more than 100 reunions.

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In Tuesday's filing, administration lawyers stated that a remaining 27 children were not eligible for reunification with a parent and were therefore not subject to the court-mandated reunification deadline. In the courtroom, they expressed openness to collaborating on several issues, including searching for parents who have been removed from the USA and double-checking the criminal records.

One Honduran father had been warned by border agents that his child would be taken away, and had been given an opportunity to explain to his son what would happen.

Earlier this year, the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services - the agencies responsible for detaining families at the border and housing children who have been separated from their families, respectively - announced a new partnership in which potential sponsors to take children out of HHS custody would be fingerprinted, as would everyone in the sponsor's household.

Lee Gelernt, ACLU deputy director of the Immigrants' Rights Project, said outside court in San Diego that he expected 65 children of the 102 young children to be returned to their families Tuesday.

As daunting as the process appeared in court, this week's deadline concerns less than 5 percent of the children separated from their parents in recent months.

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Still other parents still have yet to undergo DNA testing to match them to their purported children.

ACLU lawyers took issue with the remaining 16.

"He was happy. I was happy", she said. "If those [parents] submitted birth certificates...[we] suggest those kids be released".

Immigrant children around the USA left shelters with their backpacks and a tender goodbye hug from staff members onTuesday as the Trump administration began reuniting dozens of youngsters with their parents under a court-ordered deadline.

The Trump administration was left with few options after a series of court orders.

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However, so long as officials are able to complete those reunifications by that Friday, or can prove that they have made a "good faith" effort to do so, it's unlikely they will be held in contempt of court. Although President Trump's executive order supposedly puts a stop to the family separation practice, documents newly obtained by Slate show the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun discussing the possibility of a "surge" in child separations, with officials proposing the financial implications of an additional "25,400 beds for immigrant minors by the end of the calendar year".

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