Feds on track to reunite 54 of 102 illegal immigrant families

Fewer than half of child reunions will meet Tuesday's deadline ACLU says

Trump admin releases names of children under 5 separated at border

The federal government was falling far short Tuesday of meeting a court-ordered deadline to reunite young children with their families after being separated at the U.S. -Mexico border, prompting a federal judge in San Diego to remind attorneys that his deadlines are not "aspirational goals".

Roughly half of the children under 5 years old who were separated from their parents at the border will be back with their moms and dads by a court-imposed deadline Tuesday, but the Trump administration is still not sure when the rest will be reunified. Today's secretive reunification operation will be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and will involve transporting the children hundreds of miles across the country to undisclosed locations.

The children were taken from their parents under President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, which called for the prosecution and detention of adult immigrants crossing the border without authorization.

"Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours ... has taken significant steps", Gelernt said.

The hearing followed a feverish weekend of talks between the administration and the ACLU after the judge refused on Friday to grant a blanket extension to the deadline, saying instead that he would only consider certain exceptions.

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"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".

Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the U.S., have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.

Sabraw previously ordered that thousands more children aged five and older should be back together with their parents by July 26, but Monday's hearing did not touch on their cases.

Nevertheless, the government, in its Tuesday "Joint Status Report" notes that in at least 14 of the 102 children's cases, they will not be "reuniting" them with parents because the adults in question are either not actually their parents, have been convicted of serious crimes, including rape and murder, or have been credibly accused of child abuse.

In separating families, Trump sought to advance a hard-line immigration policy that past administrations had considered and quickly abandoned as inhumane.

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On Monday, a federal judge in Los Angeles rejected a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to amend a decades-old court settlement that limits the amount of time immigrant children can be held in federal custody. One child has still not had either of its parents identified.

"The kids are all over the country", ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., two girls and a boy who had been in temporary foster care were reunited with their Honduran fathers at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement center about three months after they were split up. The families will be released after they are reunited.

Four have parents who are in state criminal custody. According to government attorneys, nine have parents who have already been deported, while an additional nine have parents that have been released from government custody in the United States. A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days.

The ACLU, however, said it believes as many as 10 more children might not be on the government's list, and said it would provide those names to the government to investigate. On Monday, she said there were 102 children in that age group, and that two had already been returned to their parents.

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