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‘Catch and release’ immigration policy Trump abhorred is back in effect

12 July 2018

The boy was secured in a booster seat, and father and son were driven away.

Lee Gelernt, ACLU deputy director of the Immigrants' Rights Project, said outside court in San Diego that he expected 65 children of the 102 young children to be returned to their families Tuesday.

In Grand Rapids, the children were "absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again".

At a status conference, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw told the government that it did not need to fingerprint everyone in a given parent's household in order to reunite that parent with their child. Flores stipulates that children can not be held in detention for more than 20 days.

In court in San Diego, Sabraw said DNA tests to determine if a child belongs to a family aren't necessary if family members have other documentation, such as a birth certificate. "The government has to prove they are unfit or a danger".

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In fact, through DNA testing, two adults who apparently thought they were parents of a child were determined not to be, he said. He stated, "These are firm deadlines".

"My take on this whole situation is we're not done yet", she said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the White House's planned crackdown on immigration on May 7 - warning would-be immigrants that "If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you".

Speaking to reporters just before his flight to Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Trump blamed his administration's failure to meet the court's deadline on the detained families themselves, saying the "solution" to the crisis he created is "don't come to our country illegally". Before the parent-child separations became widespread, the government operated three family detention centers with bed space of about 3,300. Despite Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's assurances that the government was on track to meet the dates laid out in the ruling, subsequent court filings showed that the Trump administration was seeking to push the deadline back.

"Things have taken a real step forward", Gelernt said.

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The organization provided first names only. She ruled at the time that immigrant children generally can't be held longer than 20 days. But she wouldn't be surprised, she added, if the Trump administration continued to try to find ways to work around the 1997 agreement and other laws to protect immigrant children.

Additionally, according to the lawyers, 20 children were eligible for reunification but would not be reunified by the July 10 deadline "due to legitimate logistical impediments that render timely compliance impossible or excusable".

Authorities said most of the parents would be released into the US from immigration detention centers, and the children would be freed from government-contracted shelters and foster care. "I will never be separated from him, no matter what", said a tearful Javier, a 30-year-old from Honduras, who was reunited with his 4-year-old son after 55 days of detention.

The separations sparked national and worldwide outrage that crossed party lines and including warnings from health experts that taking children from their parents would incur significant emotional harm. The Trump administration is trying to line up thousands of more beds at military bases.

Last December, the Trump administration quietly reversed an Obama-era directive that prevented Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from detaining pregnant women except in extreme cases, altering the policy to prevent holding only women in their third trimester. Yet in a disturbing investigation published Monday, BuzzFeed News has found that to not be the case, detailing the stories of several women who say they were ignored, roughly handled, shackled around the belly, and denied urgent medical care - even as they were miscarrying their children.

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‘Catch and release’ immigration policy Trump abhorred is back in effect