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US govt says in compliance with court order on migrant children


REUTERS
WASHINGTON
THE US government believes it is in compliance with a court-ordered Tuesday deadline to reunite immigrant children under 5 who were separated from their parents while crossing the US-Mexico border, according to a court filing.
In a filing in US federal court in San Diego on Tuesday, the government said 75 children were eligible to be reunited and 38 were likely to be back with a parent by the end of the day. The government said others would be reunited once the government determined parental fitness or eligibility to be reunited. In other cases, it said it needed to make contact with a parent released from detention.
The children were taken from their parents under US President Donald Trump's"zero tolerance" immigration policy, which called for the prosecution and detention of adult immigrants crossing the border without authorisation.
After public outcry and a court challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Trump stopped separating families last month.
A federal judge in California overseeing the ACLU case ordered in June that the youngest children be reunited by July 10. Judge Dana Sabraw also ordered that the estimated 2,000 separated children over five years old must be reunited by July 26.
In court filings, the ACLU has said the government is asking for needless provisions for reuniting families that would not happen if the families had not been separated in the first place. These provisions included DNA testing and background checks on unrelated people who might end up living in the same home as the reunited family.
Many of the separated children are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss US immigration policies.
Some lawyers representing the separated children, who have been scattered into foster systems across the country, said the government was not telling them what would happen to their young clients.
The Legal Aid Society in New York said it is representing at least two separated children under 5 years old that meet the judge's criteria for reunification on Tuesday.
One boy, from El Salvador, was due to be released to his mother, according to Beth Krause, the supervising attorney of Legal Aid's Immigrant Youth Project.

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