Judge Tells Trump Admin To Lay Off Toughest Vetting For Separated Families

Trump admin releases names of children under 5 separated at border

More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents by US immigration authorities at the border this spring before Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an global outcry. Sabraw gave the Trump White House until Tuesday to reunite all children under the age of five with their parents, and ordered that the rest of the children must be unified with their parents by July 26.

In a conference call with reporters, Chris Meekins, a senior official with the Department of Health and Human Services, said the reunification process may be going slowly, "but there is no question that it is protecting children".

"Records show the parent and child might be USA citizens", lawyers for the government wrote in the filing.

Under normal circumstances the government said it would perform extensive checks on all those in the household where an illegal immigrant child being released from federal custody would end up. They will be set free in the USA pending the outcome of their immigration cases, which can take several years.

Six of the 102 children are not eligible for reunification because they have a parent with a criminal history or were separated from someone who is not their parent. Authorities were working to verify the parentage in 16 other cases, while in 20 other cases, the parent had already been removed from the United States or released from federal custody, Meekins said.

He similarly said the government should limit its use of DNA tests to reunite parents and children, following the ACLU's argument that the government was using the tests to delay family reunifications.

That prompted the court to order the government to submit a list of children younger than five, and it do so over the weekend, the ACLU said, by presenting the list of 102 children.

Meanwhile, the administration faces a second, bigger deadline - July 26 - to reunite thousands of older children who were also separated from their families at the border in the past few months.

On Tuesday morning, staff members at a nonprofit organization that has been housing numerous youngest children "made sure every backpack was full and every child got a hug and a goodbye", Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez said.

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Numerous separated children are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss U.S. immigration policies.

"The kids are all over the country", ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said.

The Legal Aid Society in NY said it is representing at least two separated children under 5 years old that meet the judge's criteria for reunification on Tuesday.

More than 2,000 children in all were separated from their parents by USA immigration authorities at the border this spring before President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an worldwide outcry and said families should remain together.

U.S. Border Patrol agents take a father and son from Honduras into custody near the U.S. -Mexico border, June 12, 2018, near Mission, Texas. On Monday, advocates for immigrants said there has been an outpouring of support nationwide for the soon-to-be reunited families, including offers of places to stay and money to resettle in the United States as they await deportation hearings.

"This is hard, very hard", she said. A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days.

The government on Friday asked for an extension of the deadline, saying it needed more time to find and confirm the identities of the children and parents.

The American Civil Liberties Union received the list of the names of the almost 100 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents at the border, according to a group spokesman.

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