But nearly half of the children under 5 remain apart from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.
The administration was under a court mandate to reunite families separated between early May and
Fifty-seven children were reunited with their parents as of Thursday morning, administration officials said.
“Throughout the reunification process, our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment,” according to a statement from the heads of the three agencies responsible for the process. “Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families. The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly.”
Most of the reunions occurred by Tuesday’s court-ordered deadline, but the government acknowledged in a court filing that 19 occurred Wednesday and one Thursday.
“There is no excuse for the Trump administration’s missed deadline,” said
The administration said in its filing that it is difficult to determine how much time is needed and that reunifications should occur “on a flexible schedule.”
Both sides are due back in court Friday to expand on their proposals. It will be the fourth hearing in eight days, an indication of how closely the judge is watching his deadlines.
Of the deported parents, officials said they had chosen to leave their children behind. One deported father, however, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week that he didn’t realize what he was doing when he signed the paperwork to leave his child behind. It wasn’t clear if he was one of the dozen; no names have been made public.
In 22 other cases, adults posed safety concerns, they said. Officials said 11 adults had serious criminal histories including child cruelty, murder or human smuggling. Seven were not determined to be a parent, one had a false birth certificate, one had allegedly abused the child. Another planned to house the child with an adult charged with sexually abusing a child.
“The seriousness of the crimes is the reason why we are not going to reunite them,”
The 46 children will remain in the care of
The zero-tolerance policy calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally. Because parents can’t take their children to jail, they were separated. The move caused an international uproar. At least 2,300 children were separated from about 2,200 adults until the executive order was signed. Federal officials have been scrambling to reunite the children under a tight, two-week deadline set by the judge.
Part of the issue, administration officials said, is that the systems weren’t set up to reunify parents with their children.
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
Sabraw indicated more time would be allowed only in specific cases where the government showed good reasons for a delay.