Children Under Five Reunited, Admin. Announces

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One parent was initially asked to pay $1,900 to be reunited with a child, according to ACLU court papers.

"So much of this is really just common sense and common courtesy", Sabraw said during a 90-minute hearing Friday in the class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of migrant parents by the American Civil Liberties Union. It should be transparent and easy to do.

The government, which has been locked in a messy court battle over the reunifications for weeks, offered some reasons in its press release for why dozens of the young children were found ineligible for reunification. It remains unclear whether the parents and children will be detained together or released.

A majority of migrant children age five and under who were detained under the United States immigration "zero-tolerance" policy have been reunited with their families. Only 57 out of the 103 children under 5 were reunified with their families.

The administration said it could not return about half of those 46 children to their parents due to safety concerns. They said they had to conduct DNA tests on all parents and children to ensure that they were indeed related, and had to conduct background checks on parents to ensure that children weren't being handed over to criminals.

Advocates had protested that such testing was creating delays and had previously occurred only when officials doubted that the adult concerned was the parent or if officials had concerns about safety.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a joint statement that the 57 reunifications show that the government is in full compliance with Sabraw's order.

The officials said 46 of the children were not eligible to be reunited with their parents; a dozen parents had already been deported and were being contacted by the administration.

On Friday, Sabraw also signaled that he was inclined to have the USA government shoulder the travel costs for parents trying to reunite with their children, as the ACLU requested, though the issue was unresolved.

Reunited immigrant children scooped up into parents' arms
The US administration will not meet a July 10 deadline to reunite all children under the age of five with their families. They come amid a tide of national and worldwide outrage over such young children being taken from their parents.

On that front, the judge has noted "there is a lot of work to do" on the older group of children and has ordered the Justice Department to provide an update Thursday on how many need to be reunited with parents. Nineteen were reunited on Wednesday and one additional child and parent were reunified by 6 a.m. on Thursday, the government said. The judge said he would decide the issue Monday, when another hearing is scheduled in the case. "The American immigration system is the most generous in the world, but we are a nation of laws and we intend to continue enforcing those laws".

The government maintained in the filing that it is complying with the judge's orders. But Sabraw told officials to move faster, saying he believed 63 children could be quickly returned to their families. A Honduran man strangled himself after officials took his son, and Republicans and Democrats alike criticized the policy.

The administration said in its filing that it is hard to determine how much time is needed and that reunifications should occur "on a flexible schedule".

ICE chose to use Alternatives to Detention, which includes the ankle monitor, for most cases involving children under 5 years old, an ICE official told PolitiFact.

The Trump administration has emphasized that immigrants who want to claim asylum should do so at ports of entry instead of trying to come in illegally.

Not all of the families who were separated at the border entered the country illegally.

"Our agencies' careful vetting procedures helped prevent the reunification of children with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child", they wrote. Federal officials have been scrambling to reunite the children under a tight, two-week deadline set by the judge.

But he reiterated that the government should not hold itself to the level of scrutiny it undertakes when someone who did not arrive with the child at the border comes forward to take that child out of custody.