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13 July 2018, 12:58 | Darnell Patrick
Less Than Half of The Separated Immigrant Toddlers Will be Reunited By Tomorrow's Deadline
Government attorneys, meanwhile, told a federal judge in San Diego that the Trump administration would not meet the deadline for 20 other children under 5 because it needed more time to track down parents who have already been deported or released into the U.S. During Tuesday afternoon's court hearing, Judge Sabraw stated that he expected administration officials to reunite as many as 63 of the eligible separated children with their parents by the deadline.
But lawyers said in court that the government may try to detain parents and older children after they are reunited later this month, in an effort to continue Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy of criminally charging and jailing all adults who cross the border illegally, including those who request asylum or are crossing with children, which is a departure from the past.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit that led to Sabraw's court order, said on Wednesday it did now know if the government had met the deadline for the youngest children.
"It's extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parent", ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said in a statement. "These are firm deadlines", he said.
On Tuesday, Justice Department lawyers told Sabraw they would reunite 38 children by the deadline.
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.
They remained apart for two months, with Pulex in detention in El Paso and her daughter sent to live with a foster family in MI.
But my mid June, when the government admitted that more than 2,000 children had been separated while their parents were held in detention awaiting court dates, the administration came under pressure to rescind it. They will be set free in the United States pending the outcome of their immigration cases, which can take several years.
Authorities said most of the parents would be released into the USA from immigration detention centers, and the children would be freed from government-contracted shelters and foster care.
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This week, families who have been reunified have been released from federal custody, given ankle monitors and ordered to appear back in court for their immigration proceedings.
Martin said he would have grave concerns if the children were not reunited with their parents quickly. Health and Human Services manages their care inside the US, while Homeland Security has control over adults in immigration detention, and the Justice Department manages the immigration courts.
In total, an estimated 3,000 children were separated from their parents as a result of Trump's so-called "zero tolerance" policy.
"The proposal in that order is not to wait to reunite those families until then", Orihuela argued.
The government has until July 26 to reunite almost 2,800 other children, ages five through 17, now in its custody.
"These individuals had the opportunity to take the child with them when they were removed in the first place", Albence said.
Monday's hearing set the stage for a dramatic day of reunifications on Tuesday across the country, though they are likely to occur largely outside public view. A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days.
Almost 3,000 children were swept up under the "zero-tolerance policy" and the majority have yet to be reunited with their families.
"Elimination of any one of these steps increases the margin of error that children could be harmed", he said.
"Everyone here wants the children to be reunited with their families", activist Jonathan Gonzalez Cruz said.
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