Separated immigrant children sleeping on the floor of a Border Patrol facility. Courtesy Sen. Kamala Harris

Facing a Thursday deadline to return the estimated 2,551 children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, Justice Department attorneys filed court papers in San Diego Monday stating that 879 have been reunited with their families, but the parents of 463 others may have already been deported

The document was filed one day ahead of another hearing before U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who set the Thursday deadline for the completion of reunifications of children and their parents who were separated under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy against illegal border crossings.

According to the court filing, 879 children have already been reunified with their parents, and another 538 have been cleared to be reunited, with transportation arrangements still pending. The Department of Justice reported in the document that 917 children are either not eligible to be reunited with their parents or are “not yet known to be eligible.”

Of those, the parents of 130 children waived their right to be reunified, while the parent of 64 have some type of criminal record or are otherwise ineligible. But the parents of 463 children area already believed to have been removed from the country, although that number is considered “under review.”

Sabraw issued an order last Monday temporarily blocking the federal government from deporting parents who had been separated from their children at the border.

Attorneys for the federal government have contended in previous proceedings that parents being deported had the right to take the children with them, but declined to do so, apparently hoping their children will be allowed to remain in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the government over the separations, has countered that many of the immigrants likely didn’t understand or weren’t fully apprised of their legal rights.

Sabraw has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to get an update on the reunification process.

— City News Service 

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