More than two thousand children have been taken from their parents since April and it's estimated that 64 children under 5 years old are still waiting to be reunited with their families. Children under 5 were ordered to be reunited by July 10.
On Monday, government officials were due back in court for a hearing after court filings showed that they had requested an extension to the July 10 deadline originally handed down for reuniting the children under 5 who had been forcibly separated from their parents while entering the country.
American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt sought assurances from the government on Monday (Tuesday NZT) that advocates would be in position to guide parents when they are released in a foreign land.
The first deadline has come and gone, and it was one the federal government could not fully meet.
McConaghy also said that the US attorney has been pressing the government to reunite J.S.R. and V.F.B. with their parents before the court-ordered deadline. The Department of Justice said the child, who has been in custody for more than a year, may be a USA citizen.
Eleven children are in state or federal custody for other reasons, while 12 adults who were separated from children at the border have already been deported. To make matters worse, they have been unable to locate the parent for over a year. Parents were charged with the misdemeanor crime of crossing the border illegally and jailed for court hearings, while their children were sent to shelters or foster care. At the same time, a little over a quarter of the separated children under 5 could not be reunited because the adults they arrived with were found to have serious criminal histories or no relation to the children or because they are now being held in criminal custody.
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Officials claimed one adult abused the child he traveled with, while another adult told of his plans to house a child with a suspected pedophile.
Sabraw has set a final deadline for the government to reunite the 2,000 children who remain in custody with their parents: July 26.
The separations sparked national and worldwide outrage that crossed party lines and including warnings from health experts that taking children from their parents would incur significant emotional harm.
"They will be assessed for reunification after they are released from criminal custody, provided that Defendants are made aware of that release", lawyers added. Another 46 children were acknowledged by the court to be ineligible for reunification, including 22 whose adult family members were thought to pose a potential safety risk.
Still other parents still have yet to undergo DNA testing to match them to their purported children.
"Things have taken a real step forward", Mr Gelernt said.
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Staff members at a nonprofit organization that has been housing numerous youngest children 'made sure every backpack was full and every child got a hug and a goodbye, ' Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez said. One adult's location was unknown, they said.
Almost two weeks after a judge ordered officials to reunite the families they'd split up, we only have a handful of anecdotal examples of kids and parents being brought back together.
All migrant children under age 5 who are eligible will be reunified with their parents by early on Thursday morning, a Trump administration official said, but the announcement is being met with skepticism from rights groups.
The Trump administration was left with few options after a series of court orders. But the government does not have the room: ICE has three family detention centers with space for 3,000 people, and they are already at or near capacity, though the Trump administration is trying to line up space at military bases.
It's unclear what will happen to families detained at the border moving forward.
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