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Trump administration says family reunification deadline will be largely met

The Trump administration says it is working to meet a federal court deadline that orders more than 2,500 migrant children between the ages of 5 and 17 be reunited with their families by Thursday. More than 460 parents may have already been deported without their children. Judy Woodruff gets an update from Amna Nawaz.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now the latest on families separated at the border.

    A federal court has ordered that more than 2,500 children between the ages of 5 and 17 separated under the president's zero tolerance policy be reunited with their families by Thursday.

    The Trump administration is working to meet that deadline. In a court filing last night, the administration also indicated that more than 460 migrant parents may have been deported without their children.

    The federal judge overseeing the government's plans is holding a hearing in San Diego now, as we speak.

    And our Amna Nawaz has been listening in.

    And, Amna, you have the latest.

    So, first, you have got some new information or how quickly some of these separated families are going to be reunited.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

    The judge just got an update from the government lawyer. That call is still ongoing. He's getting an update as we speak.

    But, basically, they're dealing with kids who are age 5 to 17. It was a group of 2,500 or so kids. About 1,600 of those were declared to be eligible for reunification. The government said right now they have already reunified over 1,000 of those children.

    The judge asked, do you expect to meet the deadline to have all of those kids who are eligible reunited by Thursday? That is the deadline the judge set. And the lawyer for the government actually, said, yes, that is my understanding that will happen. That's a little surprising, because, remember, Judy, even with the kids under 5, they missed the deadline.

    They say they're going to meet it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, they're moving quickly.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    They are.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now, back to this deportation argument, the ACLU, the government, they're making their arguments. What are you hearing there?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    So, right now, the big number that caught our attention was 900. In the latest filing, the government said that they have 900 parents who are currently slated for deportation.

    And what that means, under the current rules, parents have basically two days to decide, I'm either going to leave with my child or without my child. Leaving without the child means they either go to another family member, to a sponsor, or they stay in government custody.

    The ACLU, the plaintiffs in this case, are saying they need more time, we want to extend that to seven days after reunification. It gives them time to meet with the kids, spend some time, talk to lawyers, figure out their options.

    The government's pushing back. They say they don't have time, they don't have resources to do that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But what we were talking about a moment ago, it turns out the government may have already deported, what, some 400 parents without their children.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right. So, 463 was the other number in the latest filing that caught a lot of people's attention.

    And, interestingly, just a few minutes ago, in this latest call, the government still doesn't have a lot of information about where those parents are or under what conditions they were deported without their children.

    But you do have to think back to the kids under 5 of that group, which was a much smaller group. There were 12 parents in that group who were deported without their children. The government said they had a lot of trouble finding them and trying to reconnect them with their kids. You can't imagine how they're going to do that with 463 in this case.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, as I understand it, the government is saying some of these parents said they were going to — wanted to leave without their children?

    What do we know about that?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

    All the parents have an option to waive reunification. The government gave the latest number so far, saying 127 parents agreed to waive that right.

    Judy, we have to remember, in some cases, the parents have to make the call that, if I'm going to leave, maybe at least I will leave my child in perhaps safer conditions than the conditions we were leaving in our home country.

    We don't have a lot of details beyond that in terms of what the circumstances were of them agreeing to do that, but that number right now is 127.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    OK, finally, you — Amna, you have been following what's been going on with this little 3-year-old girl separated from her grandmother, what, almost five weeks ago, five weeks ago at the border.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Give us an update on Sofi.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    So, 3-year-old Sofi had another call with her mother yesterday. It was about 10 minutes' long.

    Her mother reports, every time, that Sofi basically cries and begs to come home each time they talk. Her mother continues to move through the process. They have now caught the attention, this story, of a group called Immigrant Families Together. It's a small volunteer force that's connected Sofi's family with a number of local support groups.

    So they now have some kind of financial support. There's a GoFundMe account that started. They're helping drive them around to lawyers' appointments and fingerprinting appointments. They're in the vetting process.

    But, Judy, it's important to remember Sofi's now in about four-and-a-half weeks. There's really no certainty ahead. The parents — or her mother still has to be vetted for approval. Sofi has to be approved for release. There's still some uncertainty ahead for this little girl.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we should say the video we were just showing was you following the grandmother and Sofi as they were attempting to come across the border…

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … some weeks ago.

    Amna Nawaz, staying on the story, thank you so much.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Thanks, Judy.

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