The government will miss Tuesday's deadline for reuniting dozens of young illegal immigrant children with their parents, a Justice Department lawyer said Monday - though the judge who put himself in charge of overseeing the process said that still marks solid "progress".
"The Trump administration's failure to meet the court's deadline to reunite families separated at the border shows the administration's ongoing neglect and disregard for the wellbeing of immigrants", Javier Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said in a statement.
They are among more than 2,300 children split up from their families as a effect of the "zero tolerance" practice that saw their parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, even if they did so to seek asylum.
"There's no question that the parties are meeting and conferring", she said.
The government said it could not fully meet the first deadline because, in some cases, children's parents had already been deported or failed a criminal background check.
"It's extremely disappointing the government will not be in full compliance with the court order, but the judge has stepped in to manage this mess of the administration's making". Some children were brought to the USA by someone who was not their biological parent, it said, adding that others had parents with serious criminal records.
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The case includes a broader group of thousands of other children and parents, but the hearing focused largely on the pressing deadline for the children under 5.
During Monday's court proceedings, government officials said that about half of the children in the under 5 age group - just over 50 - would be reunited by the deadline.
One of them might be a child of a USA citizen, the Justice Department acknowledged Tuesday when it notified a federal judge about the progress being made to complete more than 100 reunions. The rest of the children under 5 are expected to be reunited with their parents by July 26, attorneys said.
One there is no information on the parent.
Ten of the children were ineligible for family reunification because their parent was in the "custody of U.S. Marshals Service" or "state or county custody".
Federal agencies have until July 26 to return children 5 and older who are among the "under 3,000" taken from their parents. "They will not remain in ICE custody". 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.
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The child 'cannot be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year, ' the Justice Department said, adding that 'records show the parent and child might be USA citizens'. "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".
In this June 25 photo, a mother migrating from Honduras holds her 1-year-old child while surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents after illegally crossing the border, near McAllen, Texas.
Fabian attributed the holdup to difficulties tracking down some parents, and to necessary background checks on those whom they've found.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the parents in a class-action lawsuit, said US officials "have not even tried" to return 12 children to parents who were deported, and said officials should have more quickly found eight parents who have been released in the United States.
In the filing, the ACLU criticized the government's work reuniting the children with their parents.
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