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After blowing past a court-ordered deadline to reunify the youngest children separated from their parents at the border, the Trump administration Wednesday released its latest plan for resolving the crisis.
But the plan has raised further questions about the reunification process, and whether the administration can meet a separate deadline later this month to reunite older children, age 5 to 17, with their families.
The latest plan, rolled out this week after being outlined to U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw on Friday, comes after a confusing reunification process for the youngest migrants affected by the immigration policy changes. The government missed its July 10 deadline for reuniting children under 5 with their parents. Of the 103 children of tender age, 57 were reunited with their parents, with the rest deemed ineligible because investigations flagged adults for a criminal record or the parent was already deported, among other reasons.
The Trump administration has until July 26 to reunite the roughly 2,500 children older children who were separated from their parents under the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy established in May.
READ MORE: 5 numbers to watch on family separations
When asked Thursday about meeting that deadline to reunify the remaining separated minors, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, speaking at a security forum in Colorado, said “we will do our best, but we will not cut corners.”
The nine-page plan consisted of information the government put out in recent media calls and court filings. Here are some highlights:
The plan is an expanded version of a June 23 fact sheet put out by the administration, released shortly after President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting family separations stemming from the “zero tolerance” policy. But it comes weeks after the government said it would reunite families and also after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit that led to the court-imposed deadlines for reunification.
Cmdr. Jonathan White, assistant secretary for HHS’ Preparedness and Response office, presented the agency’s updated reunification plan to the judge Friday. Judge Sabraw said White’s testimony and the updated plan provided “a great deal of comfort.”
“I also have the impression that you’re operating in absolute good faith,” the judge told White.
READ MORE: How Trump’s family separation policy became what it is today
Joshua Barajas is the arts editor for the NewsHour. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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