Immigrant Toddlers Reunited With Families, US Officials Say


On Monday, government officials were due back in court for a hearing after court filings showed that they had requested an extension to the July 10 deadline originally handed down for reuniting the children under 5 who had been forcibly separated from their parents while entering the country. "The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly".

"Parents of children under the age of five are being reunified with their children, then released and enrolled into an alternative to detention (ATD) program, meaning they will be placed on an ankle monitor and released into the community", said Matthew Albence, a senior official with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ACLU lawyers said that regardless of the reunifications, the government missed the court-ordered deadline of Tuesday and would be deciding how to address the non-compliance with the court.

"If in fact 57 children have been reunited because of the lawsuit, we could not be more happy for those families", he said.

Handout/Reuters Baby and toddler high chairs are seen at the Bristow facility, in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Bristow, Virginia. In court earlier this week, officials said it is possible that one young child held in federal custody for more than a year is a US citizen.

One adult's location "has been unknown for over a year", the Trump administration said.

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Abril Valdez of the ACLU of MI said the government was "vague" on the time and place of the reunifications that could come on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) for two Honduran men he represents.

Catholic Charities, which helped place some of the children in shelter facilities after their separation, held a news briefing in NY at which a handful of the reunited parents expressed relief after weeks of anxiety over the separations.

"But until I have both my children with me, I don't know what I will do", she said. One adult had a falsified birth certificate, one was accused of abusing the child who had been brought across the border, one was being treated for "a communicable disease" and one had planned to house their child with an adult who had been charged with child sexual abuse.

Trump signed an executive order on June 20 to stop the separations concerning asylum seekers after its zero-tolerance approach announced earlier in the spring had raised a furor.

"Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally", the statement said.

The zero-tolerance policy called for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally.

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Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the U.S., have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges. Of that group, they said, 34 parents had undergone and passed criminal background checks and DNA verification.

The government pays for DNA and screening fees, officials said.

During the hearing in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Marisol Orihuela, a Yale professor working on the case, said the plaintiffs want the court to rule to have the children - identified as J.S.R. and V.F.B. - and their parents released immediately. Their three-year-old sons were in temporary foster care in Grand Rapids while they were in a jail in Battle Creek.

In ordering an end to the separation of families, the president said they should instead be detained together.

Another eight parents have been released while their children were still in custody, and the government won't be able to return their children yet either.

As daunting as the process appeared in court, this week's deadline concerns less than 5 percent of the children separated from their parents in recent months.

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