Administration reports nearly 1,200 family reunifications

July 23, 2018 - 11:54 pm

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly 1,200 children 5 and older have been reunited with their families after being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, leaving hundreds to go before this week's court-imposed deadline, according to a Justice Department court filing on Monday that raised the possibility that many parents have been deported.

There have been 1,187 reunifications with parents, sponsors and guardians by the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Refugee Resettlement. which took custody of the children, the filing said. The administration has identified 2,551 children 5 and older who have been separated from their families.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw has set a deadline of Thursday for the government to reunite all older children with their parents. He set an earlier deadline for dozens of children under 5.

The filing indicates there are 463 adults who may not be in the United States. It says those findings are based on case notes and are under review.

More than 1,600 adults were believed eligible for reunification, including 217 who have been released by immigration authorities into the United States, according to the filing. More than 500 were vetted and awaiting transportation.

More than 900 were "not eligible, or not yet known to be eligible," many of them undergoing vetting.

The administration was still working to develop a list of how many adults have been deported.

Sabraw has ordered frequent updates as the deadline nears. The administration and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the families, are due in court Tuesday for the seventh time this month to discuss the status.

Last week, the judge temporarily halted deportations of families to give the government time to respond to the ACLU's request that parents have a week to decide if they want to seek asylum after they rejoin their children.

The government's response was due by Monday morning. But the two sides asked for a one-day extension as they sought to iron out differences, potentially setting the stage for the halt to be lifted.

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