Two weeks have passed since President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end his administration's policy of separating undocumented immigrant children and parents, but chaos still reigns at the border and across the country as family reunification has hit roadblocks.
The operation comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which last month won a preliminary injunction ordering speedy reunification of migrant families separated under the "zero-tolerance" policy on border enforcement that was put into place in May.
Sabraw said on Monday he was "very encouraged with the progress" made so far, and ordered the government to provide a list by 6pm PT with the most current status on each of the individual cases. The ACLU would like a faster reunification process while the USA government claims they are bound by strict protocols, such as a plan to DNA test every child and parent before a reunification can occur.
Jennye Mariel Pagoada Lopez, 24, said one night she got so sick that a fellow detainee was forced to scream and wave at a security camera to get her help - but the officials who arrived still refused to get her to a doctor, despite her heavy bleeding.
Still, despite the frustrations and delays, Sabraw sounded a positive note, suggesting that he would be inclined to extend the July 10 deadline given the work that Fabian presented Monday.
Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian provided the court with the most detailed data thus far on the 102 children under age 5 whom it identified as separated from their parents at the border. We are just asking that the parent be given back their child.More news: England team 'like a family now', Kyle Walker says
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Children separated from their parents, some as young as 1 year old, are appearing in US immigration court. A second hearing to monitor the reunification process was scheduled for Tuesday.
As Common Dreams reported, a federal judge ruled late last month that the Trump administration must reunite children under the age of five within 14 days and all of the almost 3,000 children it separated from their parents within 30 days.
Most parents have already been transferred to detention facilities in the vicinity of where their children are now held, Sarah B. Fabian, a Justice Department lawyer, said in court Monday. "There was no reunification plan in place, and families have been separated for months". "We have agreed it is best to not talk publicly about location too much for the safety of children, to ensure the orderly and safe release for everyone". The families will be released after they are reunited. Fabian said two of those children have already been reunited, and another 54 will be reunited by Tuesday.
A number of children can not be released to their parents, either because the parents were released from custody into the United States or deported or because the parents are serving criminal sentences.
We are going to propose within 48 hours of contacting a parent who is in the USA, and within one week of contacting a parent who's already been removed to another country. As the ACLU argued in Friday's court hearing, those steps were originally designed for vetting a non-parent sponsor taking custody of a child who immigrated to the USA alone, not for reuniting children with their own parents. The administration cited difficulties locating dozens of the youngest children's parents, including at least 19 who had already undergone deportation proceedings.
Judge Sabraw said that that information should be shareable with trusted groups under the protective order he had already approved. Unaccompanied children, some as young as 1 year old, have been kept in large chain link cages, and in some cases, forced to represent themselves in court.