The Donald Trump administration has faced domestic and worldwide outcry over its announced "zero tolerance" policy of arresting all those who cross the border illegally and separating parents from the children they brought with them.
Lawyers for the children also argued that a recent ruling in California that ordered the Trump administration to reunite all separated immigrant families by July 26 does not prohibit the court from reuniting J.S.R. and V.F.B. with their parents ahead of the deadline. A further three have now been returned to their parents, officials announced on Thursday. "Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families".
When asked about the missed deadline Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he had a solution.
The ACLU says they will not be seeking sanctions for the government not meeting the deadline, telling ABC News in a statement, "At this point, we think the most constructive way forward is that the Court continue to stay hands-on and keep the government moving forward". "But make NO mistake: the Trump administration missed the deadline, even for those 57 kids".
The Justice Department told Sabraw on Tuesday officials had found that some parents were unfit for reunification because they had criminal histories, some had already been deported and still others had not yet been located.
Eleven adults were either in the custody of the U.S. Marshals "for other offenses" (9) or in the the custody of state jails (2). One adult's location was unknown, they said. One parent was from Honduras and the other from El Salvador.
Albence, though, maintained that all of those parents agreed to be deported without their child. Another planned to house the child with an individual charged with sexually abusing a minor.
Meekins declined to provide a number of how many are left, but said that per the court proceedings, the government will be providing a list of names to the ACLU and their clients Thursday afternoon, so they can review the list.
Hundreds of other families were separated after they crossed the USA border under Donald Trump's policy to deter immigration from Mexico.
Protesters in New York City marched last month in support of the families separated at U.S. -Mexico border. At Tuesday's hearing, he said the process is taking too long and needs to be "streamlined".
The government expects to reunite just 38 of those children by Tuesday.
The remaining 46 in the group were ineligible for a variety of reasons, including having parents suspected of abuse, according to a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, a little over a quarter of the separated children under 5 could not be reunited because the adults they arrived with were found to have serious criminal histories or no relation to the children or because they are now being held in criminal custody.
The government said 24 children are now not eligible to be reunited with parents "due to circumstances of the adults in question", 11 of whom are in criminal custody with either the U.S. Marshals Service or state jails.
Back in June, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction on the practice of family separation, and also stipulated that the remaining children aged 5 and over must be reunited by July 26. In many cases, the problem was simple if shocking: the government was ready to release the children but couldn't yet verify with whom they belonged.
The court-ordered deadline was July 10.