A California judge on Friday gave the U.S. government until the following night to submit a list of children under five separated from their families at the border, a government official said. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration had asked the court to extend a deadline to reunite some detained children with their migrant parents, arguing it needed more time to perform necessary checks and confirm identities.
Judge Dana Sabraw had issued an injunction on June 26 requiring the government to reunite detained migrant children under the age of five within 14 days and those over that age within 30 days.
More than 2,300 children, around 100 of them under the age of five, were separated from their families as a consequence of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Several hundred have already been reunited with their parents, but the government has struggled to keep up, and it admitted on Thursday to using DNA tests to determine parentage.
In total, about 11,800 migrant children are currently detained by U.S. authorities after having crossed the border illegally, but 80% of them are teenagers who arrived alone, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has said.
According to a government official, the judge did not formally rule out extending the period, and another hearing will be held on Monday. The government did not request a specific new set of deadlines, but instead sought to “prepare a proposal for an alternative timeline.”
It also sought relief from a paragraph in the original injunction that prohibits the government from detaining adult migrants without their children, arguing it could be read to require the release of such detainees if they had not been reunified within the time-frame.
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