Judge: 'Great progress' reuniting families split at border

By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press | Posted - Jul. 20, 2018 at 7:31 p.m.

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge on Friday applauded Trump administration efforts to meet a deadline to reunite more than 2,500 children with their families after they were separated at the border.

Justice Department attorneys said in federal court in San Diego that 450 children 5 and older had been reunified, up from 364 a day earlier.

"I'm just very impressed with the effort that has been made," U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said. "It really does appear that great progress has been made."

Hundreds of children are still awaiting reunions with their family.

In a court filing Thursday, the administration said about 1,600 parents were believed to be eligible for reunification and about 900 were not eligible or "not yet known to be eligible."

Nearly 700 of the ineligible parents are being vetted. Another 91 have been found to have a "prohibitive criminal record" or been deemed ineligible by U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement.

Another 136 waived reunification, according to the Justice Department.

It appeared unlikely that all the children would be reunified by the July 26 deadline. More than 200 parents have been released into the U.S. and parents of an unknown number of children have been deported.

Friday's hearing was the sixth in three weeks and two more are scheduled next week, a sign of how closely the judge is monitoring the process.

His praise for the administration was a sharp turnaround from last week, when he said he was having second thoughts about whether the government was acting in good faith. The government submitted a revised reunification plan two days later that was well received by the judge.

In late June, Sabraw set deadlines of July 10 to reunify dozens of children under 5 with their families and July 26 for reunifications involving 2,551 children 5 and older.

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Elliot Spagat


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