US says all eligible youngest children, families reunited

US says all eligible youngest children, families reunited

The federal government was falling far short Tuesday of meeting a court-ordered deadline to reunite young children with their families after being separated at the U.S. -Mexico border, prompting a federal judge in San Diego to remind attorneys that his deadlines are not "aspirational goals".

Immigrant parents who reveled after joyful reunions with their young children spoke Wednesday of the traumatic impact of being separated from their sons and daughters for months after they were taken from them at the US border.

Dana Sabraw, a federal judge in California, gave the administration until Tuesday to reunite children under five years old, and until July 26 to reunify older children.

The ACLU's Gelernt said during a court hearing on Friday that it was "startling" that the government can not find some parents.

But it says 46 children under 5 weren't reunited with their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues. But make no mistake about it: "the government missed the deadline even for these 57 children", lawyer Lee Gelernt said.

The infant is one of hundreds of children who have yet to be reunited with their parents, with many separated from their families under the Trump administration's recently rescinded "zero tolerance" family separation policy.

The ACLU said the government hasn't even reached out to 12 parents who were already deported while their kids were in USA custody, leaving those children stranded.

During the June 27th ruling, the Judge stated that "Measures were not in place to provide for communication between governmental agencies responsible for detaining parents and those responsible for housing children, or to provide for ready communication between separated parents and children".

The practice of separating families has been part of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, which refers anyone detained at the border for prosecution, including those seeking asylum in the United States.

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One immigration advocate told Reuters she was still awaiting details on when two under-five children would be back with their parents. Officials said 11 adults had serious criminal histories, including child cruelty, murder or human smuggling. On June 27, she finally made contact with her children and has been given weekly visitation rights. "Those were the worst days of my life".

The ACLU said late Sunday the administration provided it with a list of 102 children under 5 years old and that "appears likely that less than half will be reunited" by Tuesday's deadline. The father said he was still shaken by the ordeal he had to go through just to speak to his boy while he was in government custody.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to blame the Democratic Party, among others, for failing to fix what he has characterized as a broken immigration system. "They are just using children!" he said. Seven were not determined to be a parent, one had a false birth certificate, one had allegedly abused the child. Several parents have already been deported, while authorities disqualified others due to criminal records.

"Our clients still have not been reunified!" said Beth Krause, an attorney with Legal Aid Society's Immigrant Youth Project, in an email to Reuters.

All parties are expected to be back in court on Monday at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) in San Diego, where next steps will be discussed, the ACLU said.

Federal officials have been scrambling to reunite the children under the deadline set by Sabraw.

Rights advocates have blamed the USA government's poor technology for difficulties tracking children across multiple government agencies involved in their detention and care.

Those children and their parents, Fabian said, will be released from custody instead of being held in family detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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