US says it will release, reunite 50 immigrant children

Published 07-09-2018

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SAN DIEGO (AP) – At least 50 immigrant children under age 5 will be released with their parents by Tuesday's court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunify families forcibly separated at the border, a government attorney said Monday.

That's only about half of the 100 or so children covered by the court order.

At a court hearing, Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian acknowledged the Trump administration won't meet the deadline for all the youngsters.

She said the government was still working to do background checks and confirm the relationships between the adults and children in its custody.

More than 2,000 children in all were separated from their parents by U.S. immigration authorities at the border this spring before President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an international outcry and said families should remain together.

Late last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw set deadlines of Tuesday to reunite children under 5 with their parents and July 26 for older children. On Monday, the Justice Department updated the judge on its progress.

Before the court hearing, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt said that a judge can impose sanctions, usually fines, for failure to meet a deadline but that the organization is not pressing for that at this time.

He said the ACLU instead wanted a detailed explanation of when all families will be reunited.

"At this point what we need is very specific, concrete steps," he said.

Gelernt said the youngsters "have already suffered so much because of this policy, and every extra day apart just adds to that pain."

Before the court hearing, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt said that a judge can impose sanctions, usually fines, for failure to meet a deadline but that the organization is not pressing for that at this time.

He said the ACLU instead wanted a detailed explanation of when all families will be reunited.

"At this point what we need is very specific, concrete steps," he said.

Gelernt said the youngsters "have already suffered so much because of this policy, and every extra day apart just adds to that pain."

"At this point what we need is very specific, concrete steps," he said.

Gelernt said the youngsters "have already suffered so much because of this policy, and every extra day apart just adds to that pain."

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FILE - In this June 18, 2018 file photo, dignitaries take a tour of Southwest Key Programs Casa Padre, a U.S. immigration facility in Brownsville, Texas, where children who have been separated from their families are detained. The American Civil Liberties Union says it appears the Trump administration will miss a Tuesday, July 10 deadline to reunite young children with their parents in more than half of the cases. The group said the administration provided it with a list of 102 children under 5 years old who must be reunited by Tuesday under an order by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego. It said in a statement that it “appears likely that less than half will be reunited” by that deadline. (Miguel Roberts /The Brownsville Herald via AP, File) - The Associated Press


FILE - In this June 25, 2018 file photo, Christian, from Honduras, recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House,in El Paso, Texas. A judge has put off at least until Monday, July 9, a ruling on a Trump administration request for more time to reunite more than 100 children under 5 who were separated from their parents after crossing the border. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Justice Department to share a list of the 101 children by Saturday afternoon with the American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully sued the administration to force the young children and families to be reunited by Tuesday. (AP Photo/Matt York, File) - The Associated Press