ACLU eyes date to reunify kids, deported parents

Less Than Half of The Separated Immigrant Toddlers Will be Reunited By Tomorrow's Deadline

Lawyers leading a lawsuit that has forced the Trump administration to reunite almost 3,000 children separated from their parents asked a judge on Thursday to require the federal government to create a fund to pay for mental health counseling that the children will likely need.

The Trump administration announced Thursday it has reunited 57 of the youngest 103 immigrant children it had separated at the border- but said the remaining 46 were "ineligible" for reunification.

The administration defended its screening, saying it discovered parents with serious criminal histories, five adults whose DNA tests showed they were not parents of the children they claimed to have, and one case of credible child abuse.

Some parents who were already deported may choose not to have their child sent to them, in some cases because the child has other family in the USA or can pursue asylum or other relief.

In total, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is charged with overseeing those children forcibly taken from their parents, says there are around 3,000 minors waiting to be reunited with their families.

Also, on Monday, a federal judge in Los Angeles emphatically rejected the Trump administration's efforts to detain immigrant families for an extended period.

The announcement comes as the United States government scrambles to reunite thousands of migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. "They're not aspirational goals", said Judge Dana Sabraw of U.S. District Court in San Diego, admonishing the government. The order provided the administration with 15 days to reunite children under the age of 5 and 30 days to reunite all others.

The ACLU said the government hasn't even reached out to 12 parents who were already deported while their kids were in US custody, leaving those children stranded.

"If the government has in fact reunified 57 kids because of the lawsuit, we are thrilled for those families", the ACLU said in a statement. It now appears as if the Trump administration will clearly miss this deadline by a wide margin.

The government has cited logistical issues in getting some of them back together (one being that some parents were already deported). The California judge in the case had ordered those children reunited by Tuesday.

Most of the illegal immigrants try to enter the USA through Mexico to escape gang violence and the lack of opportunities for a better life at home.

A different judge, in Los Angeles, on Monday dismissed as "dubious" and "unconvincing" the U.S. Justice Department's proposal to modify a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement, which says that children can not be held in detention for long periods, irrespective of whether they're with their families.

Thousands of babies, toddlers and older children were separated from their parents at the border this spring before Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an worldwide outcry over the images of youngsters in chain-link cages and audio recordings of children crying.

A majority of migrant children age five and under who were detained under the USA immigration "zero-tolerance" policy have been reunited with their families.

He said he was still shaken by the ordeal he had to go through just to speak to his boy while he was in government custody from February. The families will then be released, according to the Justice Department lawyer. Physicians and others blasted the policy and warned about lasting psychological damage to children and parents.

The chaotic process of attempting to match children with their parents has revealed the haphazardness of the administration's overarching policy. Another 12 parents may be eligible for reunions but have already been deported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle McConaghy told the judge the government has a plan to reunify all parents and children by the deadline. Critics said the administration failed to track the separated families, making it hard to reunite them.

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