The American Civil Liberties Union says it appears the Trump administration will miss Tuesday's deadline to reunite young children with their parents in more than half of the cases.
During Monday's court proceedings, government officials said that about half of the children in the under 5 age group - just over 50 - would be reunited by the deadline.
More than 2,000 children were forcibly separated from their parents at the Mexican border this spring under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy on illegally entering the country.
US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered the list to be handed over by Saturday evening as he considers whether to extend the Tuesday deadline to reunify the families.
The ACLU and others have blasted the Trump administration for shoddy record-keeping after they separated the parents and children, saying the government apparently had no plan in place to eventually bring families back together.
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.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday there were "under 3,000" children separated from their parents. One child's status is unknown because the government lacks information about the parent, Fabian said.
DNA cheek swab tests on parent and child take almost a week to complete, said White, who called the risk of placing children with adults who aren't their parents "a real and significant child welfare concern". Some of the children were brought to the United States by someone who is not their biological parent, for example, while others have parents with serious criminal records.
Sabraw declined on Friday to grant the government an extension but indicated he might be willing to do so if officials provided the court and the ACLU with a detailed list of the children and status of their reunification.
"I am very encouraged about the progress", Sabraw said at the hearing.
Some parents of the children have already been deported; others are still in criminal custody; others are undergoing background checks.
The judge ordered the attorneys to file more thoughts by Monday evening on the timelines and procedures for reuniting those parents who will not rejoin their children Tuesday, and the court will hold another hearing Tuesday morning to discuss the issue further.
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. Parents already released into the US should be reunited with their children within 48 hours of the government contacting them, or within a week for parents already deported, he suggested.
Additionally, Gelernt took issue with the Trump administration's claim that it has lost track both of parents who have been released by ICE within the USA pending their immigration or asylum hearings and at least nine parents who it deported without their children.
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and the lead lawyer who argued for the preliminary injunction, said in a July 8 press release that the request for more time was unacceptable given the levels of trauma the children have already been subjected to.
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