Immigration Deadline for Reuniting Families Remains, Judge Says

The Trump administration had a “firm” court-ordered deadline to reunite 102 children under the age of 5 who were taken from their undocumented immigrant parents. That’s not going to happen.

At a hearing Tuesday in San Diego, Justice Department lawyers told a judge that logistical issues complicated many of the reunions and that only 38 of the children would be reunited with their parents by the end of the day. About 2,900 older kids must be returned to their parents by July 26.

“I intend to stand on the deadline,” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said at the hearing in a case filed on behalf of families by a civil rights group. “The government, because of the way the families were separated, has an obligation to reunite and to do it safely and efficiently, that’s paramount.”

The children were separated from their parents under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for prosecuting illegal border crossings, one of several directives intended to crack down on undocumented immigration. The minors were then sent to facilities around the country.

Shortly before the hearing began, the Trump administration told the court that in addition to the 38 back with their parents by the end of the day, 16 kids will be reunited shortly thereafter once their eligibility is confirmed.

“Any children not being reunified by the July 10 deadline are not being reunified because of legitimate logistical impediments that render timely compliance impossible or excusable, and so defendants are complying with the court’s order,” the Justice Department said.

Sabraw told the government to provide an update by Thursday on the reunions and explanations on why some still haven’t been returned to their families.

U.S. Can’t Reunite All Immigrant Toddlers by Tuesday Cutoff

“The court could not have been clearer that business as usual is not acceptable,” Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit, said in a statement. “The Trump administration must get these children and parents reunited.”

In a court filing Tuesday, the ACLU said the government hasn’t attempted to contact some of the parents who were deported without their children, highlighting what the New York-based group has characterized as mismanagement of the policy.

By Erik Larson for Bloomberg
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