USA refuses to reunited scores of detained migrant children with parents

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The reunions are seen as the blueprint for following U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw's order to reunite more than 2,000 parents with a much larger group of children ages 5 to 18 by July 26.

The government, which is under court order to reunite thousands of children separated from their parents under its "zero-tolerance" policy, said 57 had been reunited as of 7 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Thursday.

Sarah Fabian, a Justice Department lawyer, said of the original 102 children under age 5 identified as potentially separated from their parents, only 75 turned out to be eligible for reunification. Nine were in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for other offences. Since their parents' criminal proceedings happened quickly, the children and parents were reunited and transferred together to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS said.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw imposed a series of deadlines for the administration to reunite almost 3,000 children separated from their parents, mostly under President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration enforcement policy.

"Their statement is vague at a minimum", said attorney Lee Gelernt, noting that a San Diego judge had set a deadline of Tuesday for reuniting those children. The California case - Ms. L v. ICE - ordered the government to take all 3,000 children separated from their families and reunite them with their parents within 30 days. The government outlined how it was meeting the previously issued court order to streamline its process, and said that in some cases it was unable to complete the parent-child verification process. Despite Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's assurances that the government was on track to meet the dates laid out in the ruling, subsequent court filings showed that the Trump administration was seeking to push the deadline back. "We will be recommending remedies for the non-compliance". Meanwhile, some separated children have been entered into an Obama-era foster care system, where temporary guardians described them as "shell-shocked".

Catholic Charities, which helped place some of the children in shelter facilities after their separation, held a news briefing in NY at which a handful of the reunited parents expressed relief after weeks of anxiety over the separations.

Most of the illegal immigrants try to enter the US through Mexico to escape gang violence and the lack of opportunities for a better life at home.

Earlier this week officials said at least one of the children in their custody might be a USA citizen.

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Thousands of babies, toddlers and older children were separated from their parents at the border this spring before Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an global outcry over the images of youngsters in chain-link cages and audio recordings of children crying.

Jennye Mariel Pagoada Lopez, 24, said one night she got so sick that a fellow detainee was forced to scream and wave at a security camera to get her help - but the officials who arrived still refused to get her to a doctor, despite her heavy bleeding.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that some young children who have been reunited with their parents no longer recognize them. Physicians and others blasted the policy and warned about lasting psychological damage to children and parents. "They're not aspirational goals", the judge said.

The zero-tolerance policy called for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally.

On that front, the judge has noted "there is a lot of work to do" on the older group of children and has ordered the Justice Department to provide an update Thursday on how many need to be reunited with parents.

Along with allegations of crime, officials said some of the parents have already been deported, while others are in jail.

In a court hearing later on Tuesday, the administration gave additional details on the 51 children eligible for reunification, who had not yet been united with their families.

A court ruled earlier this week that the administration cannot detain immigrant families long-term, upholding a 20-day time limit a child can be held in custody, and casting into doubt the future of Trump's immigration agenda.

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