Next steps ordered for family reunification
Judge commends administration’s efforts so far
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge on Friday commended Trump administration efforts to reunify young children and families separated at the border but also said he plans to watch closely as a deadline approaches involving older children.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said at a hearing in San Diego that the government has demonstrated good faith and largely complied with a deadline this week to reunite families with children under 5.
At the same time, he indicated he will be monitoring the administration’s actions ahead of a July 26 deadline to reunite more than 2,500 older children with their families.
The judge said the administration must provide a list of names of parents in immigration custody and their children by Monday and complete background checks by Thursday.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the separated families, has said the administration failed to meet last Tuesday’s deadline to reunify dozens of children under 5 with their families and should therefore be closely watched as the next deadline approaches.
The administration disputed that characterization, saying it reunified all 58 children under 5 who were eligible and that it complied with the judge’s order.
It acknowledged that 19 of the 58 children were reunified Wednesday and one came on Thursday — after the deadline — “for logistical reasons specific to each case.”
The administration filed a plan Friday saying it would immediately begin reuniting the older children with their families.
Those reunions were expected to begin “on a rolling basis” leading to the deadline, according to the Justice Department. The reunifications will occur at six to eight unspecified locations determined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The government said it was using “truncated” procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks involving 2,551 children.
Officials said they were concerned the process threatened child safety but noted it was adopting the shorter procedure to comply with court orders.
Friday’s hearing was the fourth in eight days on the issue, a sign of how closely Sabraw is monitoring the process.
A woman holds up a protest poster that reads in Spanish: “Trump, Not one more immigrant child separated from her family!” in Mexico City on Friday.