Washington, July 10 (IANS) A US judge has given the Donald Trump administration more time to reunite migrant children aged five or younger with their parents.
The decision on Monday came after a government lawyer said more than half of the 102 young children may be back with parents by the original deadline of Tuesday, BBC reported.
They are among more than 2,300 children separated from parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border.
The adults say they have fled poverty and gang violence in Central America.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that after viewing a list of the 102 children under the age of five in the government’s care, “it appears likely that less than half will be reunited” by the 10 July deadline.
However, during a hearing on Monday, Department of Justice lawyer Sarah Fabian said 54 of the children should be back with their parents by Tuesday.
At the hearing in San Diego Judge Dana Sabraw agreed that some cases “will necessitate additional time” for reunification.
Immigration authorities have offered little information about reunification or what comes next.
Lawyers have described migrant toddlers clambering on court desks during hearings, forced to appear in court alone while their parents are detained.
Pamela Florian, a lawyer with The Florence Project, an Arizona non-profit providing legal and social services to detained immigrant families, told the BBC the family separation policy led to “a huge increase in the number of younger children” coming through the system.
“Now we’re seeing toddlers, we’re seeing babies,” she says.
Last week, the government offered the following information —
Sixteen children have not yet been matched to parents, 19 parents have already been released into the US, 46 parents are being held in custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Two parents have been judged unfit for release.
On Twitter, immigration lawyers have shared their experiences representing young children who cannot properly explain their situation, let alone navigate legal proceedings.