Judge Denies Trump Admin Request to Extend Reunification Deadline

A federal judge gave the government until Tuesday to reunite children younger than 5 years old with their parents; older minors must be reconnected with their families by July 26.

The deadline is July 10 for parents with children under 5 and July 26 for everyone else.

Six of the 102 children are not eligible for reunification because they have a parent with a criminal history or were separated from someone who is not their parent.

The organization and government agreed the locations of the releases would not be disclosed, and the government agreed to work with immigration advocates to ensure the parents had money for a hotel and other necessities. "To my knowledge we do not have any information".

Gelernt responded dryly that while the government has made "significant steps" since the judge's national injunction, he does not believe it is in "full compliance". He said the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for detaining and caring for undocumented immigrant children apprehended by authorities, is not sure precisely how many kids came into its care as a result of the Border Patrol taking them from their families.

On Friday, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian told a court that officials might need additional time to track down dozens of parents who are no longer in custody - including 19 who were already deported.

The ORR program "was not created to track the circumstances" behind a child's arrival in the U.S., Azar said, and the Department of Homeland Security didn't tell the refugee agency which children were taken from parents and which came over the border unaccompanied.

"For those folks, in some cases for example, if we're not aware of where the parent is, I can't commit to saying that reunification will occur before the deadline", Fabian said.

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The judge ordered the government to deliver a list of the children's names to the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, by Saturday and said he would decide Monday whether to grant an extension.

Without the "family identification numbers" that the families were initially assigned upon their arrests, immigrant parents and their children appear in federal computers as individuals with separate cases and no relation to one another.

The government's court documents describe an extensive and painstaking effort to collect information between the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; verify the parentage; and assess the parents' "fitness" to receive their children.

Children under the age of 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, and the administration has 30 days to reunite children forcibly separated after arriving at the southern border with their parents.

Deadlines are looming; the government has less than a month to reunite the families it separated.

Fabian explained that the administration has so far matched 86 parents to 83 children, with 16 still to be matched. Azar said fewer than 3,000 children were separated, and fewer than 100 are under the age of five. "Parents have a choice" when they're removed from the country to leave their children behind, he said.

The department has manually reviewed the cases of all 11,800 children in its custody by working nights and weekends, White said.

Attorneys for the ACLU, which has sued the government over the family separations practice, say they are monitoring the situation and will go back to the court if officials fail to comply with the deadlines.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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