Fifty-seven children were reunified with their parents as of Thursday morning, administration officials said.
One of the biggest operators of migrant-youth shelters in the United States, Southwest Key Programs, said its staff had dispatched several children from its shelters to return to their parents on Tuesday.
Numerous separated children are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss U.S. immigration policies.
Two weeks have passed since President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end his administration's policy of separating undocumented immigrant children and parents, but chaos still reigns at the border and across the country as family reunification has hit roadblocks.
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 other family members or even foster care, as it does for the more than 10,000 other minors who arrived in the US without a relative. The 30-day deadline is up July 26.
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.
The other 46 children were ineligible for reunification for various reasons, including that their parents had criminal histories, were in custody or had been deported, as well as for health reasons, the government said.
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One of them might be a child of a USA citizen, the Justice Department acknowledged Tuesday when it notified a federal judge about the progress being made to complete more than 100 reunions.
Devin O'Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department disagreed with Gee's Monday ruling and continued to review it. But the government does not have the room: Immigration and Customs Enforcement has three family detention centers with space for 3,000 people, and they are already at or near capacity, though the Trump administration is trying to line up space at military bases.
Some attorneys and advocates prepared for Tuesday's (Wednesday NZT) reunions with little information. During Tuesday afternoon's court hearing, Judge Sabraw stated that he expected administration officials to reunite as many as 63 of the eligible separated children with their parents by the deadline. One adult's location was unknown, they said.
The ACLU has said that none of the steps would have been necessary if the government had never separated the families in the first place. Their three-year-old sons were in temporary foster care in Grand Rapids while they were in a jail in Battle Creek. "Defendants are unable to conclusively determine whether the parent is a class member, and records show the parent and child might be USA citizens".
In a court filing Tuesday, the Justice Department included a section called: "Not eligible for reunification".
Rights advocates have blamed the USA government's poor technology for difficulties tracking children across multiple government agencies involved in their detention and care. A spokesperson for the agency said it could not provide more details about what indication there is that this child and parent may be US citizens, how the child came to be in federal custody or where the child is now sheltered.
"Judges run the system and illegals and traffickers know how it works".