Children separated from their parents, some as young as 1 year old, are appearing in USA immigration court.
Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the United States, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.
Public outrage over the separations led President Donald Trump to retreat last month from his "zero-tolerance" policy toward unlawful border crossings. "Health and Human Services will bring the children to two residential centers in Texas and reunify them". Nine were in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for other offences.
On Monday (Tuesday NZT), a federal judge in Los Angeles rejected the Trump administration's efforts to detain immigrant families in long-term facilities, calling it a "cynical attempt to undo a longstanding court settlement". And for several weeks, administration officials have been under a court-ordered deadline: Reunite those young children with their parents, and do it quickly.
The Trump administration is missing its court-imposed deadline to reunite 102 young immigrant children with their parents. With key deadlines looming, the government says it's doing everything it can but in some cases will need more time than the court has given them.
On Tuesday, Justice Department lawyers told Sabraw they would reunite 38 children by the deadline.
But almost half of children under five years old remain separated from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.
In one instance, the administration said the parent of one of the separated minors was undergoing treatment for a communicable disease and would be reunited with their child once treatment was complete. The father held up his wrist and told reporters that after they were separated, he threatened to use a razor on himself if he couldn't speak to his son. "Eliminating any one of these steps will endanger children".
Through DNA testing, five adults who claimed to have children were determined not to be their parents, according to the government.
In a court filing released on Tuesday, U.S. officials admit they may have taken a child away from a U.S. citizen at the southern border. Immigration lawyers say they already are seeing barriers to those reunifications from a backlog in the processing of fingerprinting of parents to families unable to afford the airfare to fly the child to them - which could run as high as $1,000 US.
Of the 103 infants and toddlers in government care, the administration said it had identified just 57 who were eligible for reunions.
The government separated families without a specific plan for reuniting them.. Part of the issue, administration officials said, is that the systems weren't set up to get parents back together with their children.
"These are firm deadlines, not aspirational goals", the judge said.
Sabraw also asked the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the separated families, to suggest a potential punishment if the Trump administration fails to meet the deadline.
Sabraw on Tuesday told the government to stop fingerprinting and vetting every adult sharing a household with parents who'd been separated from their children, a new procedure that immigration advocates argue creates a disincentive for reunification - undocumented people are understandably wary of handing their fingerprints over to DHS, which houses Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The distance between many children and their parent or parents have been coupled with logistical challenges and resulted in a major bureaucratic snag.