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story.lead_photo.caption In this image taken from video, Javier Garrido Martinez, left and Alan Garcia, right, sit with their 4-year-sons at a news conference in New York, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. They men were reunited with their children after almost two months of separation, Authorities took their boys them when they stopped at the U.S. southern border. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says all eligible small children separated from their families as a result of its zero-tolerance immigration policy have been reunited with their parents.

But nearly half of the children under 5 remain separated from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.

The administration was under a court mandate to reunify families separated between early May and June 20, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order that stopped separations. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who had been separated from her child, and U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered all children reunited with their parents.

Fifty-seven children were reunified with their parents as of Thursday morning, administration officials said.

"Throughout the reunification process, our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment," according to a statement from the heads of the three agencies responsible for the process. "Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families. The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly."

Most of the reunions occurred by Tuesday's court-ordered deadline, but the government acknowledged in a court filing that 19 occurred Wednesday and one Thursday.

The ACLU proposed in a court filing that the administration should be monitored closely as a July 26 deadline approaches to reunite more than 2,000 children who are 5 and older with their parents. It asked the judge to require that all parental relations be verified and all background checks be completed by next Thursday. It also wants a daily report on how many families are reunited, starting Tuesday.

The ACLU also proposed that the administration be given no more than a week to reunite 12 young children with their now-deported parents, from whom they were separated at the border. The clock would start ticking as soon as the parent obtains travel documents for the child.

"There is no excuse for the Trump administration's missed deadline," said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. "Children are suffering because of it. The government must get these families back together."

The administration said in its filing that it is difficult to determine how much time is needed and that reunifications should occur "on a flexible schedule."

Both sides are due back in court Friday to expand on their proposals. It will be the fourth hearing in eight days, an indication of how closely the judge is watching his deadlines.

The U.S. officials said 46 of the children were not eligible to be reunited with their parents; a dozen parents had already been deported and were being contacted by the administration. Nine were in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for other offenses. One adult's location was unknown, they said.

Of the deported parents, officials said they had chosen to leave their children behind. One deported father, however, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week that he didn't realize what he was doing when he signed the paperwork to leave his child behind. It wasn't clear if he was one of the dozen; no names have been made public.

In 22 other cases, adults posed safety concerns, they said. Officials said 11 adults had serious criminal histories including child cruelty, murder or human smuggling. Seven were not determined to be a parent, one had a false birth certificate, one had allegedly abused the child. Another planned to house the child with an adult charged with sexually abusing a child.

"The seriousness of the crimes is the reason why we are not going to reunite them," Matthew Albence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said of the 22 cases.

The 46 children will remain in the care of Health and Human Services, which will continue to seek to place them with a sponsor, such as another family member or even foster care, as it does for the more than 10,000 other minors who arrived in the U.S. without a relative. Children spend an average of 57 days in shelters before they're placed with a sponsor. They are given access to medical care and counseling, as well as school.

The zero-tolerance policy calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally. Because parents can't take their children to jail, they were separated. The move caused an international uproar. At least 2,300 children were separated from about 2,200 adults until the executive order was signed. Federal officials have been scrambling to reunite the children under a tight, two-week deadline set by the judge.

Part of the issue, administration officials said, is that the systems weren't set up to reunify parents with their children. Health and Human Services manages their care inside the U.S. Homeland Security has control over adults in immigration detention, and the Justice Department manages the immigration courts.

Earlier this week, government attorneys told Sabraw that the Trump administration would not meet the deadline for about 20 children under 5 because it needed more time to track down parents who have already been deported or released into the U.S.

Sabraw indicated more time would be allowed only in specific cases where the government showed good reasons for a delay.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • BRADO1
    July 12, 2018 at 12:59 p.m.

    The Left may now move on to another phony crisis!

  • skeptic1
    July 12, 2018 at 1:08 p.m.

    Poor Pelosi, Waters, Schumer, and Pocahantas...once again their cause gets exposed as phony.

  • TimberTopper
    July 12, 2018 at 1:40 p.m.

    septic1, anytime a government just up and takes children away from those children's parents there needs to be a hell raising by the citizens of that country, for those actions. You and your previous commenter probably don't qualify as being mentally competent enough to qualify as responsible citizens.

  • abb
    July 12, 2018 at 1:56 p.m.

    Timbertopper: every. Single. DAY, children are taken away from their CRIMINAL parents. Get a clue dude. Oh, and most of the adults they are arrested with are NOT FAMILY members. Google the "undocumented Mom" with meth in Yuba, AZ separated from her family (because she had 500k in cash and meth). Yep....she's getting separated from her kids. Happens. All. The. Time!

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    July 12, 2018 at 2:29 p.m.

    their real parents or the coyotes who were paid to bring them across illegally ?

  • TimberTopper
    July 12, 2018 at 3:57 p.m.

    abby, all those people coming to the USA are not criminals, that is what I was referring to. I have a clue, dudette.

  • LRCrookAtty
    July 12, 2018 at 5:06 p.m.

    TT...Yes all the ones that were separated were criminals. They either crossed illegally and were caught, or they crossed illegally were caught and yelled "asylum." Just because they yelled asylum after the fact does not make crossing illegally less illegal. None of them went up to the border crossing and said "Hey, I am seeking asylum, please don't separate me and my children."
    Every single one of them were caught crossing illegally and you do not place a person in jail or holding with a minor. If you are caught speeding, with your child in the car, they may arrest you for speeding and (try to get a family member to pick the child up), but if none available they will go into DHS holding until one is located. Also, if speeding with child in the car, or far that matter committing any crime with a child around, you will be charged with felony endangering the welfare of a minor. When these people cross the border with their child in tow they should be charged with misdemeanor crossing illegally (if first offense) then charged with felony endangering the welfare of a minor. I have seen this charge on individuals for simply speeding, many times (and I guarantee you that when I go to see my client in jail, his/her minor is not sitting there beside them. In fact they may not even know where their child is).

  • mrcharles
    July 12, 2018 at 6:23 p.m.

    abb, this thought for the day will make you happy, after all , life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness is for americans [ guess that includes Indians too]. You are legal aren't you?

    I think the number is 9 million . I think the year is 5. Anyway 9 million children under the age of 5 die every year across the world. so in that perspective the stuff at the border is nothing to your type. The bumper stickers I see in arkanasas land , do say God Bless America, and not children of other countries. Just say this joyful note to you is an early present of celebrating the Dec 25 birthday of that famous Sir Issac Newton .

    Sometimes you just dont explain your disdain for others properly so that the full flavor of your particular brand of pauline christiany comes through. I do wonder, if you are not ashamed to admit, are you more the priestly type or the levite type?

    I wonder if LRCA ever got off guilty criminals to run the streets to hurt innocent women and children? How is that love for america to let criminals walk our streets? It would be appropriate to ask , Why hate american women and children, many who are white.

  • LRCrookAtty
    July 12, 2018 at 7:02 p.m.

    Mr.C...I have never gotten anyone "off" of anything. The prosecutor has failed to prove their case in many instances and I have negotiated deals for my clients (some who I believe were innocent but was scared they would end up in prison, because most people believe that if you were arrested then you must be guilty). I have seen more cops and agents lie (and several been caught in their lies) on the stand than I have seen a Defendant lie on the stand. Mainly because a defense attorney will rarely allow the Defendant testify unless they are adamant in testifying. Really it is the Defendant's right to testify, but with a seasoned prosecutor, they can get anyone to say anything. (You know the old adage "It depends on what the definition of 'is' is").

  • skeptic1
    July 12, 2018 at 7:02 p.m. you have Tourette's? You seem incapable of posting without name calling and insults, what is your medical issue, are you supposed to be on meds or are you just extremely immature?