Dozens of immigrant children will be reunited with parents

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Attorneys for the government and ACLU had said Monday they expected roughly half of the 102 children under age 5 who were separated from their families at the border to be reunited by Tuesday.

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.

There are as many as 2,900 more children five or older who remain in federal custody awaiting a July 26 reunification deadline, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.

Now the family detention system is at capacity - as are a network of about 100 shelters for migrant minors who traveled into the USA without parents or a guardian and who now wait anywhere from a few weeks to years to have their cases resolved in the immigration courts.

It was the largest single effort to date to undo the effects of President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance policy of separating families who try to slip across the Mexican border into the U.S.

A federal judge told the Trump administration on Tuesday to lay off using some of its most stringent vetting procedures before reuniting families separated at the border.

Following domestic and global outcry over the separations, in which some children were kept in chain-link enclosures, Trump ended the practice on June 20.

In the likely scenario that the Trump administration is unable to reunite those eligible children with their families by the court-mandated Tuesday night deadline, officials may still have an out.

Numerous separated children are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss U.S. immigration policies.

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In Grand Rapids, the children were "absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again".

The Justice Department has asked for more time to reunite parents - or to be excused from reuniting those who are deemed unfit - but Sabraw did not rule on that request Monday.

"There's no question that the parties are meeting and conferring", District Judge Dana Sabraw said.

Federal officials told reporters Tuesday that immigrant parents being reunited with their children are instead being outfitted with ankle monitors and released from custody. Tell people not to come to our country illegally.

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

The New York Times reported late last week that, under pressure to reunite the families, authorities were struggling to connect them after records linking children to their parents disappeared and in some cases were destroyed, though not as part of a deliberate attempt to obfuscate. While parents were criminally prosecuted, children were placed in custody of the Health and Human Services Department.

The ACLU argued, in response to that claim, that the administration had not made a good-faith effort to contact those parents who had been deported to facilitate reunification with their children.

Despite the delays, Sabraw reportedly said he had seen "real progress and I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and then we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what time-frame will be in place". But the government does not have the room: ICE has three family detention centers with space for 3,000 people, and they are already at or near capacity, though the Trump administration is trying to line up space at military bases. The judge refused to modify that.

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