Of the 102 children under age 5 who were supposed to be reunited by Tuesday, the government says it should be able to connect at least 54 of them with their parents, Sarah Fabian, the Justice Department lawyer, said in court.
Meekins went on to explain that three "parents" admitted they were not actually related to the children with whom they were ordered to be "reunited" when agents brought out DNA swabs to test parentage. Some families are only partially reunified; a child may be returned to his mother, for instance, while his father remains in detention. "I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and that we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what timeframe will be in place".
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 global outcry over the images of youngsters in chain-link cages and audio recordings of children crying.
The ACLU argued, in response to that claim, that the administration had not made a good-faith effort to contact those parents who had been deported to facilitate reunification with their children.
Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were "under 3,000" separated children in all.
DOJ spokesman Devin O'Malley similarly suggested that the administration may keep parents in detention rather than releasing them with their children in a statement on Monday's Flores ruling. During Tuesday afternoon's court hearing, Judge Sabraw stated that he expected administration officials to reunite as many as 63 of the eligible separated children with their parents by the deadline.
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.
On Tuesday, with the court-mandated deadline looming, the government responded. They have to conduct criminal background checks of the parents.
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Abril Valdes, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan told the Associated Press that two young boys and a girl were among those reunited Tuesday with their families at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She said the kids were blameless and such an arrangement was not in their best interest.
"Records show the parent and child might be US citizens", lawyers for the government wrote in the filing. In the case of nine others, the parents have been released and their locations are unknown, she said.
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.
He scheduled another hearing for Tuesday morning to get further updates on the reunifications, which he ordered as part of a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU. She said doubted that the judge would approve of the administration enacting it by convincing parents to sign away their children's right to release.
RAICES did not say how it meant to post bail once in D.C. or offer any details about the individuals it hoped to release. An additional 20 children have purported parents with whom they can not be reunited because those adults have already been either removed from the United States or released into the country, which removes DHS and HHS's ability to force them to come get the children they claim are theirs.
Both sides agreed to submit a document Monday night stating their disagreements on protocol; Court will reconvene on Tuesday to determine the process for reuniting the remaining children.
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.