Trump administration reunites 57 immigrant children with parents after missing court deadline

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A day after dozens of parents were reunited with children who had been separated at the U.S. -Mexico border by immigration officials, the U.S. government faces a looming deadline to match another roughly 2,000 children with parents.

The Annunciation House shelter in El Paso, Texas, was assisting four parents of children under 5 after their release from immigration detention, none of whom had reunited with their children as of Monday evening (Tuesday NZT), said Taylor Levy, legal coordinator.

But almost half of the children under 5 remain separated from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.

The government said 22 young children were deemed ineligible for reunification "due to safety concerns posed by the adults in question".

Eleven children are in state or federal custody for other reasons, while 12 adults who were separated from children at the border have already been deported.

In a joint statement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged that a "tremendous amount of hard work and obstacles" remain in the reunification process.

The request by the American Civil Liberties Union follows a chaotic week for US immigration officials, who failed to meet a court-ordered deadline on Tuesday for reuniting children under the age of five. "They're not aspirational goals", said Judge Dana Sabraw of U.S. District Court in San Diego, admonishing the government.

He also said that the parents will be given the option to have their child sent to them but would not be brought back to see them.

"If in fact 57 children have been reunited because of the lawsuit, we could not be more happy for those families", said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. It now appears as if the Trump administration will clearly miss this deadline by a wide margin. "We will be recommending remedies for the non-compliance".

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The families that have been reunited were also released from detention while they undergo immigration proceedings, which could ultimately lead to them being deported, so long as they do not commit crimes and do attend court hearings and meetings with immigration agents. Albence said an adult who previously said he did not want to be reunited with his child had changed his mind. "There was no reunification plan in place, and families have been separated for months".

The separations sparked national and global outrage that crossed party lines and including warnings from health experts that taking children from their parents would incur significant emotional harm.

Trump stopped the separations before Sabraw's June 26 order that all children be reunited with their parents.

Immigrant parents are overjoyed to be reunited with their children but deeply scarred by being torn apart from them for months. Other parents were barred from being reunited for less serious violations, such as drunk driving convictions.

One child has not been matched with a parent, Fabian said. Advocates say many undocumented immigrants are unwilling to undergo government background checks for fear of alerting authorities to their presence in the United States.

The zero-tolerance policy calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally. But as Vox's Dara Lind writes, the judge is unlikely to hold the federal government in contempt over a single missed deadline.

The chaotic process of attempting to match children with their parents has revealed the haphazardness of the administration's overarching policy.

That discrepancy in numbers is one of several disagreements both sides of the suit, the Justice Department and the ACLU, pledged to discuss later Monday.

The announcement comes two days after a court-ordered deadline to return the youngest of the children.

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