People hold signs as they participate in the
The federal health department said Friday there are 2,551 more children who may need to be reunified with their parents by July 26, laying out the parameters of the gargantuan task ahead of them.Officials revealed the number in a filing with the federal judge who has set the schedule for reunifications.That judge said Friday that he wants to have a list of most of the names, confirmation that they are in fact the parents of the children they’re claiming, and other details in hand by Thursday.And he said he expects the reunifications to begin immediately, saying the government cannot wait until just before the July 26 deadline to begin making matches.Judge Dana Sabraw did praise the government for its work on reunifying the youngest of the children — those under age 5 — who were supposed to be placed back with parents earlier this week.“There is substantial compliance. There is good faith being demonstrated,” he said.Of 103 potential children, the government said it did manage to place 57. Others can’t be reunified either because their parents are serving time in jail, were already deported, were released into the U.S. and have disappeared, or are otherwise ban candidates to have young children placed with them because of criminal or other histories.The new number of 2,551 juveniles are the remainder — those from 5 to 17 years of age — who were separated from parents in the chaos surrounding President Trump’s zero tolerance border policy.Health and Human Services officials say not all of the 2,551 children will end up qualifying for reunification, as the government finds criminal records or other circumstances that complicate their cases.Indeed, at least seven of the original 103 children under age 5 targeted for reunification had to be pulled out of the group because when the government began to do DNA testing, it discovered the adults who’d claimed parentage weren’t actually parents.Judge Sabraw, while praising the government for its efforts, has ordered it to truncate its safety checks in order to meet his July 26 deadline for the rest of the juveniles.The government says it’s likely some children will be put at risk because of that truncated system and the firm deadline.Judge Sabraw refused to give new guidance during a court hearing Friday. Even though he’s inserted himself deeply into the machinery of deportation and reunification decisions and ordered streamlined checks, he said he wanted to leave some discretion to the government on how to vet families.

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