US says all eligible youngest children and their families have been reunited

13 July, 2018, 11:49 | Author: Carlos George
  • Christian from Honduras recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House in El Paso Texas

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The looming and perhaps more significant question is how the administration will handle the much larger group of children 5 and older who are required to be reunited by July 26.

Sabraw has set a final deadline for the government to reunite the 2,000 children who remain in custody with their parents: July 26.

If the children under five are not back with their parents by Thursday, Sabraw has asked the ACLU to suggest penalties he could levy against the government.

Officials say 57 of the 103 children separated at the US-Mexico border were returned to parents as of Thursday. Attorneys for the children and the Department of Justice are working with the court to reunite the remaining children - many of their parents have been deported or released from custody in the United States - as quickly as possible.

Sabraw told the government Tuesday to "streamline" the vetting process for parents, noting that they had crossed the border with their children. In the courtroom, they expressed openness to collaborating on several issues, including searching for parents who have been removed from the USA and double-checking the criminal records.

The government is unaware of the location of the parent of one child, who according to a court filing may be a USA citizen ― meaning he or she should not be in custody as a purported unauthorized immigrant.

Still other parents still have yet to undergo DNA testing to match them to their purported children.

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"Let me be clear: HHS could have transferred every child out of our care to a parent who is now in DHS custody today if we did not take into account child safety or whether the adult is actually the parent", Chris Meekins of Health and Human Services Department said in the call.

Are families seeking asylum at ports of entries also separated? "The reason they don't is the reason they brought the child in the first place was to get the child to the United States". In court earlier this week, officials said it is possible that one young child held in federal custody for more than a year is a US citizen. "Apply lawfully and wait your turn", the officials said. At Tuesday's hearing, he said the process is taking too long and needs to be "streamlined".

Twenty-two children were not reunited with family because of safety concerns, according to the government, including 11 because of the serious criminal history of the parent, one adult who allegedly abused the child and one adult who planned to live with another person charged with sexually abusing a child. The children were "absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again".

Immigration officials have said the process was slowed by background checks, and in Thursday's court papers said it identified one parent with a warrant for murder in Guatemala and others with suspected human trafficking violations. If he finds the government missed his deadlines, he could hold government officials in contempt of court and has a wide variety of punishments available to him.

Part of the issue, administration officials said, is that the systems weren't set up to reunify parents with their children.

Since the government first came under pressure to ease its policy on separations weeks ago, it has shifted its estimates of the number of children it would reunite.

The three fathers were "just holding them and hugging them and telling them that everything was fine and that they were never going to be separated again", immigration lawyer Abril Valdes said. They are expected to appear in immigration court.

A court ruled earlier this week that the administration cannot detain immigrant families long-term, upholding a 20-day time limit a child can be held in custody, and casting into doubt the future of Trump's immigration agenda. The California case - Ms. L v. ICE - ordered the government to take all 3,000 children separated from their families and reunite them with their parents within 30 days. They may be reunited with children once they are located and contacted.

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