Trump Administration Will Not Meet Deadline for Reuniting Young Children

Trump Administration Will Not Meet Deadline for Reuniting Young Children

Under the "zero-tolerance", policy, while parents entering the United States illegally were held for prosecution, children were placed in Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) facilities across the country.

We are going to propose within 48 hours of contacting a parent who is in the USA, and within one week of contacting a parent who's already been removed to another country.

"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.

The Tuesday deadline is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which won an injunction last month to speed up the reunification of migrant families that were separated under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy at the border.

On Monday, Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian said that at least 50 children under five years of age will be released and reunified with their parents, but added that the Trump administration won't meet the deadline for all of the 102 children, as they are still working to confirm the relationships between the adults and children in custody.

Fabian said that 54 children will be joined with their parents by the end of Tuesday at locations across the country and that an additional five were undergoing final background checks. Reporters on the ground have reported that there seemed to be no plan to track where different parts of families were being sent so that they could eventually be reunited.

Six of the 102 children are not eligible for reunification because they have a parent with a criminal history or were separated from someone who is not their parent. Thirty children will not be reunited by Tuesday, for a range of reasons.

Meanwhile, the administration faces a second, bigger deadline - July 26 - to reunite thousands of older children who were also separated from their families at the border in the past few months. "This is a cruel and harmful policy that was aggravated by the Administration's lack of basic humanity in thinking ahead of time about how it would bring these families back together". That child and his or her parent may be US citizens, according to the filing.

There is one child who can't be reunited because the government doesn't know who his parents are, Gelernt said. Some detained parents had been released from custody and could not be contacted.

"This is real progress, I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow", he told the courtroom. While parents were criminally prosecuted, children were placed in custody of the Health and Human Services Department.

Instead, he ordered both sides to provide a status report Monday night on the reunification procedures, and an update on numbers Tuesday morning.

The government has reportedly struggled to offer exact information about the number of children separated from their parents.

Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer, said in court that the government had taken "significant steps" to reunite families but should be moving more quickly. "And so the government says the tension is between a fast release and a safe release".

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