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The U.S. government must reunite 63 children under the age of five who were separated by immigration officials after crossing into the United States from Mexico as soon as Tuesday or face penalties, a federal judge said. The attorneys and judge did say, though, that they hoped the work that had gone into identifying the children under 5 and what is needed to reunite them with parents will help when it comes to the older group.
But The New York Times reported late last week that, under pressure to reunite the families, authorities were struggling to connect them after records linking children to their parents disappeared and in some cases were destroyed, although not as part of a deliberate attempt to obfuscate.
Given that many households for potential sponsors include undocumented immigrants wary of being in contact with ICE, the fingerprint requirement may have led to an increase in the amount of time children spend in government custody.
Back in June, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction on the practice of family separation, and also stipulated that the remaining children aged 5 and over must be reunited by July 26. The administration cited difficulties locating dozens of the youngest children's parents, including at least 19 who had already undergone deportation proceedings.
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Government lawyers said Tuesday that USA officials will only be able to reunite 75 of 102 children under the age of 5 in the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Mr. Gelernt, what did the court decide today about these children under five, who should be reunited with their families?
But Gelernt took issue with the administration's "continued insistence on using the longer reunification process" - procedures HHS uses for children who arrive to the USA alone. Some parents of the children have already been deported; others are still in criminal custody; others are undergoing background checks.
Fabian attributed the holdup to difficulties tracking down some parents, and to necessary background checks on those whom they've found.
Thousands of migrant children were separated from their parents in recent weeks as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.
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The American Civil Liberties Union received the list of the names of the almost 100 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents at the border, according to a group spokesman. A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days.
The reunions are expected to be carried out in secret or secure locations, with parents taken from the detention centers where they have been held and children brought from federal shelters or foster homes.
One of the reasons that we asked the court to order the government to provide us a very specific list of the families and any information the government had about those families, is so that we can mobilize the enormous volunteer effort on the ground to help find parents and children.
Lee Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer handling the case, said the government is taking the reunification demands seriously, though he said he thinks the government can do better than the 54.
I don't anticipate them dragging on.
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