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Says all eligible young migrant children reunited with parents

Says all eligible young migrant children reunited with parents

The decision came in a preliminary injunction after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit.

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That deadline was not met, officials acknowledged, while noting plans were under way on Tuesday to reunite up to 54 migrant children under five with their parents.

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.

As the government awaits the court's Monday decision on whether or not the timeline for family reunification will be extended, time is of the essence: doctors have repeatedly warned that being separated from parents for even short periods of time can cause symptoms of toxic stress in children, which can derail healthy emotional development.

Sabraw on Tuesday told the government to stop fingerprinting and vetting every adult sharing a household with parents who'd been separated from their children, a new procedure that immigration advocates argue creates a disincentive for reunification - undocumented people are understandably wary of handing their fingerprints over to DHS, which houses Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The government said early this week that it had 102 children under age 5 in custody, but officials increased that number to 103 on Thursday.

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Government officials told reporters that 46 children were not returned to their parents for legitimate reasons already recognized by the court, including 22 children who face "safety concerns" posed by the adults with whom they had been traveling.

Sabraw approved on Tuesday the ACLU's suggested legal notice that will be provided to immigrant parents, which explains they have a right to be reunited and remain in the country to pursue asylum. Despite Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's assurances that the government was on track to meet the dates laid out in the ruling, subsequent court filings showed that the Trump administration was seeking to push the deadline back. The government has been conducting DNA tests of all alleged families to ensure that children are not being released to human smugglers.

In a court hearing on Tuesday, Sabraw said he wouldn't extend the reunification deadline and that 63 other families should be reunited soon after Tuesday, The Huffington Post reported. There is still one child that the government has no parental information on. At the same time, a little over a quarter of the separated children under 5 could not be reunited because the adults they arrived with were found to have serious criminal histories or no relation to the children or because they are now being held in criminal custody. "These are firm deadlines", he said.

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.

The Trump administration said it has completed its reunification process of separated migrant children under the age of 5, with 46 deemed ineligible to be reunited with their parents. Sabraw has given the government until July 26 to reunite the older children with their parents as well.

Soon after the policy was announced, images of children in cages and audio of toddlers crying as they were separated from their parents sparked widespread public outrage, including from the Republican Party and Christian conservatives.

Another two dozen were held because of problems with a parent, including 12 who were deported, nine in the custody of the US Marshals Service, two in state jails and one who can not be located. Their reasoning: DNA testing is faster than authenticating documents, and protects children - especially the youngest - from being handed to people who may not be their biological parents. Children under 5 were ordered to be reunited by July 10.


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