American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt sought assurances from the government on Monday (Tuesday NZT) that advocates would be in position to guide parents when they are released in a foreign land.
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The judge had acknowledged in court Tuesday that after further investigation some parents may not fall within the class of those eligible for reunification with children at this point, but he reiterated to the Justice Department that the timetables he had ordered for reunifying families were "firm deadlines, not aspirational goals".
Since coming under pressure to ease its immigration separation policy weeks ago, the U.S. government has shifted its estimates of the number of children it would reunite.
The Donald Trump administration has faced domestic and global outcry over its announced "zero tolerance" policy of arresting all those who cross the border illegally and separating parents from the children they brought with them.
Martin said he would have grave concerns if the children were not reunited with their parents quickly. Its explanation: "1 child can not be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year". "This is real progress and I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and then we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what time-frame will be in place".
In Tuesday's filing, administration lawyers stated that a remaining 27 children were not eligible for reunification with a parent and were therefore not subject to the court-mandated reunification deadline.
Almost two weeks after a judge ordered officials to reunite the families they'd split up, we only have a handful of anecdotal examples of kids and parents being brought back together.
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Officials said they are searching for sponsors for children whose parents are ineligible to take custody of them, including another parent, relatives or a legal guardian in the United States.
Pressed on whether his "solution" was to punish children for being brought to the United States illegally by adults, Trump retreated to more general comments.
"There is not significant evidence that the government will complete reunification by July 26", she said.
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.
Jennye Mariel Pagoada Lopez, 24, said one night she got so sick that a fellow detainee was forced to scream and wave at a security camera to get her help - but the officials who arrived still refused to get her to a doctor, despite her heavy bleeding. Several parents have already been deported, while authorities disqualified others due to criminal records. According to HHS, the screening has saved children from being put in potentially unsafe situations, including with adults have charges or convictions for child cruelty, kidnapping, murder, human smuggling, or domestic violence. If those parents were able to prove a familial bond with their child using a birth certificate or official documentation, they argued, there should be no hold-up in the reunification process. Officials have until July 27 to reunite the remaining approximately 2,900 minors over the age of 5 with their parents.
1 child can not be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year.
In the meantime, many of these children have had to face their immigration proceedings without their parents in court. Nine adults are in federal custody for other offenses, two are in state jails for other offenses and the location of one adult believed to be the parent of a separated child has been unknown for more than a year.
The government has pushed back on the idea that screenings should be streamlined, although officials said they will comply with the judge's order.
The Trump administration was left with few options after a series of court orders.