A federal judge in San Diego ordered the Trump administration to speed up its process for reuniting parents and children separated at the US-Mexico border, after it became clear the US would not reunited the 102 children under five years old by Tuesday’s deadline.
It became clear at a court hearing Tuesday that the US would not meet the deadline imposed by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw two weeks ago.
Sabraw focused on a group of 63 parents who still await return of their children.
“These are firm deadlines, not aspirational goals,” he warned the government. He told them they had to streamline the process for the reunions. For example, he said use of DNA cheek swabs to determine parentage should be used only if documents are unavailable.
At the time of the hearing only four children had been reunited. The government said it had 34 adults cleared in criminal background checks and verified to be parents to allow reunification potentially by the end of the day. In addition, federal officials said 12 parents had been deported without their children and some had criminal records, leaving 63 parents who still had to be reunited.
Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian told Sabraw that of the 102 children identified on a list the judge demanded, one detained child may be a US citizen and thus not subject to his reunification order. She did not make clear how the child was detained by ICE agents.
Sabraw ordered both sides back for hearings on Thursday and Friday for a status update on reunification of nearly 2,900 children over the age of five. He gave the government 30 days to return those children.
Meanwhile, media reports indicate that parent being released from detention facilities are wearing GPS ankle monitors and have pending immigration court hearings.