US judge extends deadline for reuniting migrant children


The government will miss Tuesday's deadline for reuniting dozens of young illegal immigrant children with their parents, a Justice Department lawyer said Monday - though the judge who put himself in charge of overseeing the process said that still marks solid "progress".

"It is disgraceful that the Trump administration had no plan to reunite children after tearing them away from their parents, and it is even more disgraceful that they are now trying to delay the court-ordered deadline for doing so", Cummings wrote on Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the immigrant families, said it had heard of as many as 10 children under age 5 who were not on the government's list and was gathering more information.

Of the almost 3,000 migrant minors who were separated from their parents and placed in federal custody, the Trump administration says at least 102 are under 5 years old.

On Friday, the administration asked the judge for more time but Sabraw said he was sticking to the deadline unless there was a good case for certain exceptions.

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Two weeks have passed since President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end his administration's policy of separating undocumented immigrant children and parents, but chaos still reigns at the border and across the country as family reunification has hit roadblocks.

The deadline is July 10 for parents with children under 5 and July 26 for everyone else. The Justice Department was working through the weekend on a path toward unification and was preparing a progress report for the court. They say officials recklessly split up families without any idea of how to bring them back together.

For the other parents, I think there just hasn't been enough of an effort made to locate the parent.

And activists, for their part, have described a "bureaucratic wall" that has prevented detained parents from finding and contacting their children. "I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and that we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what timeframe will be in place".

Officials said they were still working to locate the parents of numerous children, some of whom have been deported.

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He again declined on Monday to grant a formal extension, instead asking the government to provide another update on reunifications later in the day and on Tuesday morning.

Sabraw has also ordered the government to reunite almost 3,000 children five and older with their parents by July 26.

"There's no question that the parties are meeting and conferring", District Judge Dana Sabraw said. But they say they have to do cheek swabs of the children and the parents to do DNA tests to establish parentage.

"It's extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under five with their parent", ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told the Associated Press.

Additionally, Gelernt took issue with the Trump administration's claim that it has lost track both of parents who have been released by ICE within the US pending their immigration or asylum hearings and at least nine parents who it deported without their children.

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Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer, said in court that the government had taken "significant steps" to reunite families but should be moving more quickly.