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

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Government attorneys, meanwhile, told a federal judge that the Trump administration would not meet the deadline for 20 other children under 5 because it needed more time to track down parents who have already been deported or released into the U.S.

After the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Trump administration to speed up the reunification process in late June, a federal judge ordered the administration to reunite families who had been broken up at the border within 30 days, or 14 days for those with children under the age of 5. Before the parent-child separations became widespread, the government operated three family detention centers with bed space of about 3,300.

But almost half of the children under 5 remain separated from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.

The US government has said some children were not eligible for reunification because their parent had either been deported, had a criminal record or was otherwise unfit.

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The Justice Department also said that only 75 of the 102 children aged four and younger who were supposed to be returned to their parents by Tuesday are eligible for reunification.

"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. "We demand immediate reunification of these families, an end to the so-called "zero tolerance" policy, and once and for all we must end family detention". While he is happy with the progress made, he's said that the government has an obligation to reunite as quickly as possible the families it separated.

One Honduran father had been warned by border agents that his child would be taken away, and had been given an opportunity to explain to his son what would happen. "And so the government says the tension is between a fast release and a safe release". Two others' status could change: One adult had a falsified birth certificate and whether they are the true parent is still being determined, and another is being treated for a disease, according to the government.

These include seven adults who were found not to be the child's parent, one adult who was alleged to have abused the child, one adult who was allegedly planning to house the child with a suspected child sex offender, and 11 adults who have a serious criminal history such as kidnapping, murder, or domestic violence. It now appears as if the Trump administration will clearly miss this deadline by a wide margin.

Officials said they have been unable to locate the parent of one young child in their custody for more than a year. They have to conduct criminal background checks of the parents. They could potentially argue that the U.S. government violated their constitutional rights.

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On the very night of the first reunification deadline, the Trump Administration announced that rather than being held in detention, migrant families would be released from custody wearing electronic monitors, essentially returning USA border policy to the way it was before zero tolerance started.

"These individuals had the opportunity to take the child with them when they were removed in the first place", Albence said. Physicians and others blasted the policy and warned about lasting psychological damage to children and parents. It also has asked Congress for new laws to override the court order.

Some parents who were already deported may choose not to have their child sent to them, in some cases because the child has other family in the US or can pursue asylum or other relief.

The Trump administration faces a second deadline on July 26.

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