A total of 364 of the more than 2,500 children separated from their parents in a US-Mexico border crackdown on illegal immigration have been reunited, officials disclosed in court late on Thursday, days before a reunification deadline.
The 364 families who have already been reunited have celebrated being together again, but remain tired of the future under the "zero tolerance" policy.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who previously took the government to task for missing reunification deadlines and making disingenuous arguments about the children's welfare, gushed over the "great progress" made so far.
Sabraw said at a hearing on Monday he was reassured that the government was finally putting the emphasis on reuniting families over lengthy procedures aimed at combating human trafficking that the judge said did not apply. "During the HHS interview, a number of them have said no [to reunification]", Flentje asserted on Friday.
Younger children were reunited last week.
Migrant families from Mexico, fleeing from violence, listen to officers of the US Customs and Border Protection before entering the United States to apply for asylum at Paso del Norte worldwide border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 20, 2018.
A federal court filing submitted on Thursday night revealed that "just over 900 - have been labeled "ineligible" for reunification, because the parent either has a criminal record, is undergoing 'further evaluation, ' or waived their right to be reunified", according to Talking Points Memo.
Lee Gelernt with the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the national class action case representing the separated parents, pleaded during Friday's hearing for the Trump administration to let the ACLU assist in the search for these seemingly lost parents. The rest are pending review.
Also late Thursday, a federal judge in Seattle ordered USA immigration officials to share the information they have provided to the ACLU with attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Activists, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, center, yell as they march to protest the Trump administration's approach to illegal border crossings and separation of children from immigrant parents, June 30, 2018, in Washington.
Sabraw has said repeatedly that he expects the government to meet the deadline he has imposed.
He may press the government about comments on Thursday by the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, suggesting she might differ on the emphasis placed on speedy reunifications, saying "we will not cut corners".