Government Won’t Reunite All Under-5 Children With Parents Before Tuesday Deadline

Less Than Half of The Separated Immigrant Toddlers Will be Reunited By Tomorrow's Deadline

The original suit sought to reunite a migrant mother and her daughter who had fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and were separated at the southern border.

The Trump administration will do that for the dozens of parents being reunited with children under age 5 in accordance with a court order this week, government officials said.

"The judge made it very clear he wasn't going to allow the Trump administration to drag its feet on reunifying these children with their parents", Gelernt said.

The government has said some children were not eligible for reunification because the parent was deported, had a criminal record or was otherwise unfit. Another eight parents have been released while their children were still in custody, and the government won't be able to return their children yet either.

A Honduran child plays at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border with his father on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.

So U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents could soon be presenting detained parents with a choice: Waive your child's right to release and be detained indefinitely as a family, or exercise your child's right to release - and be separated from your child once more. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has predicted the tough immigration stance will discourage people from illegally entering the country.

District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite all of the under-five children by Tuesday, and the older ones by July 26.

More than 50 children under age 5 could be back in the arms of their parents by the deadline at the end of the day, the Justice Department said. The adults may be required to wear ankle monitors while their cases wind through immigration court, a process that can take years.

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.

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On Monday, a federal judge refused to amend a previous court order mandating the maximum time a child can be detained under federal law, which the Trump administration argued was necessary due to backlogs in the court system.

That discrepancy in numbers is one of several disagreements both sides of the suit, the Justice Department and the ACLU, pledged to discuss later Monday.

ICE has three family detention centers with room for about 3,000 people in all, and the places are already at or near capacity. The Trump administration is trying to line up thousands of more beds at military bases.

Some attorneys and advocates prepared for Tuesday's (Wednesday NZT) reunions with little information.

The ACLU, which launched the lawsuit that saw the Trump administration ordered to reunite all children separated from their families under its "zero tolerance" policy, said the administration looks set to fail to reunite even half of children under 5 with their parents. Their three-year-old sons were in temporary foster care in Grand Rapids while they were in a jail in Battle Creek.

He told reporters that 14 illegal immigrants could not be reunited with children because some had criminal histories, some were determined not to be the parents of the children and one had a communicable disease.

In the meantime, many of these children have had to face their immigration proceedings without their parents in court.

The government last week asked for more time to complete the reunification because it claimed it needed more time to ensure the children's safety and to confirm their parental relationships.

DOJ spokesman Devin O'Malley similarly suggested that the administration may keep parents in detention rather than releasing them with their children in a statement on Monday's Flores ruling.

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