In a joint statement Thursday morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the government has "worked tirelessly" to reunite children taken from their parents by the government, while also assuring "the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment".
On Monday, government officials were due back in court for a hearing after court filings showed that they had requested an extension to the July 10 deadline originally handed down for reuniting the children under 5 who had been forcibly separated from their parents while entering the country.
Earlier this week, government attorneys told Sabraw that the Trump administration would not meet the deadline for about 20 children under 5 because it needed more time to track down parents who have already been deported or released into the U.S.
The ACLU says they will not be seeking sanctions for the government not meeting the deadline, telling ABC News in a statement, "At this point, we think the most constructive way forward is that the Court continue to stay hands-on and keep the government moving forward".
The judge had acknowledged in court Tuesday that after further investigation some parents may not fall within the class of those eligible for reunification with children at this point, but he reiterated to the Justice Department that the timetables he had ordered for reunifying families were "firm deadlines, not aspirational goals".
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Government lawyers had argued that all parents and children should be tested. "We demand immediate reunification of these families, an end to the so-called "zero tolerance" policy, and once and for all we must end family detention". She said locations would not be publicly disclosed, but children have been sent to shelters across the country. He alleged that the parents only wanted all along for their kid to stay in the USA, and that is why they agreed to leave without them. On Monday, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian told a federal court in San Diego that at least 54 children - and as many as 59 - will be reunited with their families in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Almost two weeks after a judge ordered officials to reunite the families they'd split up, we only have a handful of anecdotal examples of kids and parents being brought back together. The U.S. government is in the process of contacting the 12 adults who were deported and working with foreign consulates in an effort to return their children to them, the officials said. Carrying banners, and in many cases surrounded by their own children, members of Unidad Latina en Accion, Connecticut Students for a Dream and other groups decried family separations at the border.
Now, the lawsuit has spread into total reunification of all families separated at the border under Trump's zero-tolerance policy.
The Department of Justice asked Gee to alter a 1997 settlement, which provides the framework for how to handle detained immigrant children, so it could detain families together for longer periods.
Sabraw also said fingerprinting other adults in the household shouldn't be required and that legal orientation training could occur after reunification, not before, as the government wanted.
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The administration faces a July 26 deadline to reunite the children older than 5. "Judges run the system and illegals and traffickers know how it works".
"There is not significant evidence that the government will complete reunification by July 26", she said. "Can they at some point get their children back?" A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days.
But Meekins said the measures are created to protect children.
Immigration authorities brought Gisela to Arizona about three days ago and the two were reunited Tuesday.
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