Immigrant Toddlers Reunited With Families, US Officials Say

Less Than Half of The Separated Immigrant Toddlers Will be Reunited By Tomorrow's Deadline

But the government has said it may try to detain parents and older children after they are reunited - part of Trump's effort to discourage illegal border crossings.

Their departments were responsible for the reunifications after the administration chose to separate the children from their families under President Donald Trump's hardline "zero tolerance" immigration crackdown. Before the parent-child separations became widespread, the government operated three family detention centers with bed space of about 3,300.

Of 103 toddlers brought to the US illegally in most of May and June, 57 have been reunited with their parents. "If they want their children to return to them", working with a consul will "help facilitate that".

The administration has also been ordered to reunite children aged between 5 and 17 by July 26.

Immigrant parents are overjoyed to be reunited with their children but deeply scarred by being torn apart from them for months.

But the principal point of contention is likely to be the matter of eligibility: How did federal officials decide that more than three dozen children can not be safely returned to their parents at this time - and was that decision in line with the court's criteria?

"Our process may not be as quick as some might like, but there is no question that it is protecting children", Meekins, chief of staff of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, said in a conference call with reporters. Other parents were barred from being reunited for less serious violations, such as drunk driving convictions.

Additionally, according to the lawyers, 20 children were eligible for reunification but would not be reunified by the July 10 deadline "due to legitimate logistical impediments that render timely compliance impossible or excusable".

At a court hearing, Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian acknowledged the government wouldn't meet the deadline for all the children, citing a variety of reasons, including that the parents of some of the youngsters have already been deported.

When asked on Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services referred to figures released a day earlier, when officials said four children were reunited and at least 34 more would be by the end of the day.

Are parents paying for their own DNA testing? There is still one child that the government has no parental information on. Advocates say many undocumented immigrants are unwilling to undergo government background checks for fear of alerting authorities to their presence in the United States.

On Tuesday, Trump gave his solution to the family separation and reunification crisis.

"I've asked the government for numbers and they should have told me by now", he told Reuters. "I will never be separated from him, no matter what", said a tearful Javier, a 30-year-old from Honduras, who was reunited with his 4-year-old son after 55 days of detention. The zero-tolerance policy required adults to be sent to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

What happens to families after they are reunited? A total of about 80,000 migrants wearing tracking devices on their ankles now live in the United States.

The administration's shift to rely on ankle bracelets followed an order issued Monday by a federal judge in Los Angeles, rejecting the Justice Department's request to modify a long-standing legal settlement outlining how long immigrant minors may be detained.

CNN has reached out to the agencies to ascertain why only 57 children were reported reunified as of Thursday morning when the judge ordered 63.

A national outcry, including from many of his fellow Republicans, prompted President Trump to sign an executive order stopping family separations.

The federal government has until 26 July to return the remaining children. A federal consent decree requires the government to release children from family detention facilities within 20 days.

There's been mixed messaging about this from administration officials.

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