ACLU says less than half of child reunions will meet deadline

ACLU says less than half of child reunions will meet deadline

The Trump administration confirmed on Monday that it will not meet the deadline set by a federal judge for reuniting parents with their young children.

The Tuesday deadline is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which won an injunction last month to speed up the reunification of migrant families that were separated under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy at the border. "I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and that we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what timeframe will be in place".

Department of Justice lawyers asked that the judge either extend the reunification deadline or do away with the deadlines altogether, meaning the government would no longer be expected to reunite families under any given timeline, NBC News reported.

"I think the other point is, we just don't know how much effort the government has made to find released parents", Gelernt said.

Jennye Mariel Pagoada Lopez, 24, said one night she got so sick that a fellow detainee was forced to scream and wave at a security camera to get her help - but the officials who arrived still refused to get her to a doctor, despite her heavy bleeding.

Only two children have been reunited with their parents since the government provided a list over the weekend of 102 kids under 5 in custody after being taken from their parents. They come amid a tide of national and global outrage over such young children being taken from their parents.

Of the 102 children under age 5 who were supposed to be reunited by Tuesday, the government says it should be able to connect at least 54 of them with their parents, Sarah Fabian, the Justice Department lawyer, said in court. There are less than 3,000 undocumented immigrant children now in federal custody.

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That left the government scrambling in recent weeks after Judge Dana Sabraw ordered it to reunite the families it separated and stop the practice of splitting up children and parents.

Sabraw denied a DoJ request for a blanket extension on Friday, but appears likely to grant short extensions for all the yet-to-be reunited children tomorrow when the ACLU and government return to court. Around 80 percent of them are teenagers who tried to make the crossing without their parents, HHS Secretary Alex Azar has said.

Eight have parents in federal criminal custody and are awaiting being handed over to ICE, while an additional four have parents in state or local criminal custody. Reporters on the ground have reported that there seemed to be no plan to track where different parts of families were being sent so that they could eventually be reunited.

Gelernt said the ACLU was concerned that parents would be put on the street without any money in an unfamiliar city. As the ACLU argued in Friday's court hearing, those steps were originally designed for vetting a non-parent sponsor taking custody of a child who immigrated to the US alone, not for reuniting children with their own parents.

Gelernt said the government had up until now not agreed to alter its "cumbersome, lengthy" reunification process, which authorities say is necessary to ensure that children are not turned over to traffickers or other bad actors.

We are going to propose within 48 hours of contacting a parent who is in the USA, and within one week of contacting a parent who's already been removed to another country. But as government employees would soon realize, they had their work cut out for them.

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