Dozens of immigrant children to be reunited with parents
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Dozens of immigrant children under the age of 5 will be released from government custody and reunited with their parents Tuesday after being separated at the border under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
A government lawyer said Monday at least 54 children under the age of 5 would join their parents by a court-ordered deadline, only about half the 100 or so children covered by the order. The Trump administration was working on final background checks for another five children ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
On Monday, Trump’s administration acknowledged it would not meet a Tuesday deadline set by a San Diego federal judge to reunite detained children under 5 with their families.
The president said Tuesday that he has a solution to the missed deadline: “Tell people not to come to our country illegally.” Before departing the White House for Europe, Trump said, “That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.”
Parents in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody are being taken to locations near their children and the families will be released, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian said in court. She said locations would not be publicly disclosed, but children have been sent to shelters across the country.
More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents by U.S. immigration authorities at the border this spring before President Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an international outcry. Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were “under 3,000” separated children in all.
Late last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego set a 14-day deadline to reunite children under 5 with their parents and a 30-day deadline for older children. The 30-day deadline is up July 26.
ICE has three family detention centers with room for about 3,000 people in all, and the places are already at or near capacity. The Trump administration is trying to line up thousands of more beds at military bases.
Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the U.S., have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.