This comes as the Trump administration appears set to fail in plans to reunite even half of children under 5 with their families before Tuesday's court-ordered deadline.
"This is real progress and I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow and we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and a time frame in place", he said.
More than 2,000 children in all were separated from their parents by USA immigration authorities at the border this spring before President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an global outcry and said families should remain together.
After a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite the immigrant families it has separated, there's been a trickle of stories of parents being reunited with their kids. Other parents have criminal records that prevent the families from being reunited, Fabian said.
"Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours ... has taken significant steps", Gelernt said. One area of disagreement is DNA testing on parents and children, with the government saying it should be the general rule and the ACLU saying it should be done only when no other evidence is available to prove parentage. Fabian said two of those children have already been reunited, and another 54 will be reunited by Tuesday. On Monday, we learned more details about why the government would not hit that deadline - and just how far from the goal it would get.
The ACLU reiterated its offer to help the administration track down both sets of parents. The order provided the administration with 15 days to reunite children under the age of 5 and 30 days to reunite all others.
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That's the only word I can describe it because we're all a family". "(We hoped we would have) a long month together, which we have done.
Gelernt also told Judge Sabraw that based on reports he has received from attorneys on the ground, there are more immigrant children under five years old who were separated from their parents than the 102 identified by the Trump administration. "We have agreed it is best to not talk publicly about location too much for the safety of children, to ensure the orderly and safe release for everyone". "We believe there are as many as 10, and I suspect we are going to hear about more".
She said the government was still working to do background checks and confirm the relationships between the adults and children in its custody. Puzzlingly, the administration had claimed on Friday that as many as 19 parents were deported, and argued that because they have been unable to make contact with them, they should not have to reunite them with their children under the court's injunction. "They certainly haven't reunited all the kids and parents who are noncriminals and don't fall out of the class".
Protesters in New York City marched last month in support of the families separated at U.S. -Mexico border.
But Gelernt took issue with the administration's "continued insistence on using the longer reunification process" - procedures HHS uses for children who arrive to the United States alone. There is still one child that the government has no parental information on. "They will not remain in ICE custody".
At a court hearing, Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian acknowledged the government wouldn't meet the deadline for all the children, citing a variety of reasons, including that the parents of some of the youngsters have already been deported.
"The kids are all over the country", said ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt. He will reconvene the court at 11 a.m. A second hearing to monitor the reunification process was scheduled for Tuesday.