Judge Overseeing Family Reunifications Is `Impressed' by Progress

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration says it’s on the verge of reuniting almost all of the “eligible” families separated in recent months at the country’s southern border as part of the government’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy.

The government said of 2,551 children held in detention, it has deemed 1,606 eligible to be reunited, after weeding out adults who weren’t parents or who were otherwise unfit to take custody. As of this morning, 450 had been rejoined with their parents. Another 954 have been cleared for reunification ahead of a July 26 court-ordered deadline to complete the process, bringing the total to about 88 percent.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said he’s pleased with the status update offered by the government during a hearing Friday in San Diego federal court.

“I am very impressed with the effort that’s being made. It does appear there’s been great progress,” he told attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union. “At least for those class members who are eligible and easy to reunify, this is very promising.”

About 1,000 children have been deemed ineligible or not yet eligible to be reunited with their families: some have parents with criminal histories, others are still being investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, some adults have been ruled out as the parents and still others entered the country with adults who have since been deported.

The government previously returned 58 of 103 children under the age of 5 who’d been separated from their parents.

Parties will file another status update to the court on July 23. A hearing will follow the next day in San Diego.

The case is Ms. L. et al v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al, 18-cv-428, U.S District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

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