USA seeks to reunite more young immigrants as new deadline looms

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Javier Garrido Martinez holds his 4-year-old son during a news conference in New York, Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

A federal judge had given the government until the end of the day on Tuesday to reunite 63 of the 102 children under the age of five who were in government custody.

US District Judge Dolly Gee said the government had failed to present new evidence to support revising a court order that limits the detention of children who crossed the border illegally.

In one case, the ACLU said, immigration officials reunited a mother with her six-month-old daughter then dropped them alone at bus stop late at night. The only suggestion in Thursday's filing was for the government to establish a fund to pay for counseling for the children, "who are suffering from severe trauma as a result of their forcible separation from their parents".

Before departing the White House for Europe, Trump said, "That's the solution".

One immigration advocate told Reuters she was still awaiting details on when officials would return two children younger than 5 to their parents.

Many other children who should be reunited with their families are still in detention or foster homes as their parents can't afford the often more than $1,000 plane tickets, either to other parts of the US or back to their home countries.

Sabraw approved on Tuesday the ACLU's suggested legal notice that will be provided to immigrant parents, which explains they have a right to be reunited and remain in the country to pursue asylum.

Referring to parents who'd been deported without their children Thursday morning, Matthew Albence, executive associate director of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations division, told reporters that ICE was "working with the consular officials in the foreign governments to provide information that would help facilitate" their reunification with their children.

Sessions on June 25 said they would continue to prosecute adults who enter the United States illegally.

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. Scores of children separated from their families were sent to government-contracted shelters or foster care hundreds of miles away from where their parents were detained.

HHS said it is using a contractor to perform DNA testing "only when there is a specific purported parent-child relationship that needs to be validated". Last week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were "under 3000" separated children in all. Thirty children will not be reunited by Tuesday, for a range of reasons. The Department of Justice said the child, who has been in custody for more than a year, may be a US citizen.

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

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.

Department of Justice lawyers defended the government's efforts in the same court filing, arguing that officials have successfully scrambled to meet the judge's rigid timelines.

The US president has been under intense pressure to reunite almost 3,000 children with their families.

The government is under pressure to reunite the children under a court order issued on June 26. They may be reunited with children once they are located and contacted.

But officials missed the deadline because of the time it took to determine whether the youngsters could be safely returned. They are expected to appear in immigration court. Physicians and others blasted the policy and warned about lasting psychological damage to children and parents. They are to reunite more than 2,000 older children with their families. A federal judge ordered that children under five be reunified just over two weeks ago (i.e., two weeks plus the two days over deadline).

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