Trump administration requests more time to reunite immigrant families

Unaccompanied minors are seen at a facility in Bristow Virginia on June 21. 

On Friday, Fabian said in court that 19 children under age 5 in government custody had a parent who was already deported.

An administration official said in a statement to CBS News that the administration has worked "tirelessly since Friday's status conference toward the shared goal of promptly reunifying families while ensuring the safety of the children".

Lee Gelernt, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer arguing the case on behalf of separated parents, said countless private lawyers and other organizations have offered up their services to help speed the reunification process.

The clock is ticking on a court-ordered Tuesday deadline for the federal government to reunite migrant parents with kids under 5 who were taken from them at the border.

The ACLU brought the initial lawsuit forcing the reunion of separated immigrant families. That deadline in some cases doesn't give authorities enough time to ensure children are returned to. "They will not remain in ICE custody".

Young immigrants and arrive with their parents at the Catholic Charities RGV after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

Children under 5 were supposed to be reunited by Tuesday, while children ages 5 to 17 must be reunited by July 26.

"As HHS continues to evaluate the impact of the District Court ruling, and given the constantly changing number of unaccompanied alien children in our care (every day minors are referred to our care and released from our care to parents, close relatives or suitable sponsors), we are providing the total number of unaccompanied alien children in the care of HHS-funded grantees".

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Parents already released into the USA should be reunited with their children within 48 hours of the government contacting them, or within a week for parents already deported, he suggested.

As many as 3,000 children remain separated from their parents, according to new estimates by HHS.

The judge, who has yet to rule on the extension, said the government needed to provide a full list of those under five held in custody by Saturday afternoon, following which the original deadline would be re-evaluated.

Court will reconvene on Monday.

USA officials on Thursday said that while they believe they're in compliance with "all aspects" of the order, they want the deadlines modified because government agencies - including the Department of Health and Human Services - are following "time-consuming" procedures like weekslong evaluations of homes where the children would be placed. Children five and older must be reunited within 30 days.

The government's court documents describe an extensive and painstaking effort to collect information between the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; verify the parentage; and assess the parents' "fitness" to receive their children.

Four children were identified for release to a sponsor other than their mother or father, but the government and ACLU are working to determine whether the parent wants them to be reunited instead, the government attorney said.

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