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A government lawyer acknowledged Monday that the Trump administration will miss its first court-imposed deadline to reunite about 100 immigrant children under age 5 with their parents. Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian said during a court hearing that federal authorities reunited two families and expect to reunite an additional 59 by Tuesday’s deadline. She said the other cases are more complicated, including parents who have been deported or are in prison facing criminal charges, and would require more time to complete reunions. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who ordered the administration to reunite families separated as part of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, said he will hold another hearing Tuesday morning to get an update on the remaining cases. He said he was encouraged to see “real progress” in the complicated reunification process after a busy weekend when officials from multiple federal agencies tried to sync up parents and children who are spread across the country. STORY FROM LENDINGTREE Crush your mortgage interest with a 15 yr fixed “Tomorrow is the deadline. I do recognize that there are some groups of parents who are going to fall into a category where it’s impossible to reunite by tomorrow,” he said. “I am very encouraged by the progress. I’m optimistic.” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who leads a lawsuit against the federal government, sounded more skeptical. When asked by the judge if he believed the government was in full compliance of the court order, Gelernt said there was much more work to be done. “Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours has taken significant steps,” he said. “We just don’t know how much effort the government has made to find released parents. I don’t think there’s been full compliance.” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. (Photo: U.S. District Court) The difficulty in reuniting the first 100 children shows the challenge that lies ahead as the Trump administration braces for another deadline in two weeks to reunite nearly 3,000 older children – up to age 17 – with their parents. The process is complicated because of all the different situations that emerged over the weekend. The government initially identified 102 children under age 5 who needed to be reunited but removed three children from that list because investigations into their cases revealed that those children came with adults who were not their parents, Fabian said. Twelve parents were found to be in federal and state custody on criminal charges, making a reunification impossible since the government can’t transfer minors to state and local prisons to protect the well-being of the child. Nine parents were deported, and the government established contact with only four of them, Fabian said. Four children had been scheduled to be released from government custody to relatives who weren’t their parents, leading the government to question whether to allow that process to be completed or to redirect the child back to a parent. Gelernt said he understood many of the hurdles but urged the judge to force the government to scrap its time-consuming investigation into every single case and start a 48-hour clock to reunify families that remain separated by Tuesday. Sabraw said he would decide that during Tuesday’s hearing. Fabian said one of the silver linings of the busy weekend is that her office worked closely with its challengers at the ACLU to share information on each child’s case, to ensure that representatives from immigration advocacy groups and volunteer organizations could be present during each reunification. Gelernt said they’re doing that to help the parents, who are often released from custody with no money and nowhere to go. Fabian said that coordination has led to a more formalized process between government agencies and with the immigrants’ lawyers that should make reunifications go more smoothly in the coming weeks. “I think this process over the weekend helped us see what information, and in what form, is the most useful to share,” she said. “I’d like to make that as efficient a process as possible.” -

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‘Atmosphere of fear’ in South Sudan town of Bor, says UN

BBC

A UN official in South Sudan has spoken of an atmosphere of fear and desperation as violence escalates.

Humanitarian Co-ordinator Toby Lanzer told the BBC about summary executions in Bor, in the restive state of Jonglei that has fallen to rebels.

He said that as well as people seeking refuge at the UN base there were many more hiding out in the bush.

Clashes broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and others backing his former deputy a week ago.

Meanwhile the US said it had evacuated its citizens from Bor.

Four US service personnel were wounded on Saturday when their aircraft were shot at, delaying an evacuation operation and prompting US President Barack Obama to consider further action.

“As I monitor the situation in South Sudan, I may take further action to support the security of US citizens, personnel and property, including our embassy, in South Sudan,” he said in a letter to Congress leaders on Sunday.

Earlier the South Sudanese army confirmed that Bentiu, the capital of oil-rich Unity State, had also fallen to troops supporting former Vice-President Riek Machar.

“Bentiu is not in our hands,” said military spokesman Philip Aguer.

President Salva Kiir has accused Mr Machar of attempting a coup.

‘Hundreds of thousands’

Mr Lanzer, who spent several days in Bor, said the problem of people seeking refuge was growing daily.

“I’m quite concerned that in a few days’ time we won’t be talking about tens of thousands, we’ll be talking about hundreds of thousands directly affected,” he said.

“It’s really very moving to see people just asking: ‘Can you please keep me alive?'”

Mr Lanzer added that there was a danger not just from fighting by conventional armies but from groups of youths who he said were simply “out of control”.

The government says it is trying to retake Bor, and the state has seen fierce fighting in recent days.

Two Indian peacekeepers and at least 11 civilians were killed in an attack on a UN compound in Akobo, Jonglei, on Thursday.

UN relocation

On Saturday Mr Machar said his forces controlled Unity State – whose oilfields are crucial to South Sudan’s economy.

Those reports could not be independently confirmed.

However, on Sunday Col Aguer told reporters: “Bentiu is in the hands of a commander who has declared support for Machar.”

He added that the number of people or wounded in the fighting was unclear.

Unity, a state on the border with Sudan, produces much of South Sudan’s oil, which accounts for more than 95% of the country’s economy.

Also on Sunday, the UN mission Unmiss said it had begun relocating staff from the capital Juba to the Ugandan city of Entebbe.

Juba has been tense since the unrest began last weekend.

Resident Mogga Lado told the BBC: “I was buying some things for my children in the market on Tuesday when I saw two people dressed in normal civilian clothes shot dead in front of me by people in military clothing.

“I don’t know if they were the army or rebels. I didn’t wait to see.”

Mr Machar told the BBC on Saturday that he was prepared to negotiate with the government if politicians arrested this week were released and transferred to a neutral country such as Ethiopia.

Mr Kiir also agreed to negotiations after meeting African mediators on Friday.

President Kiir, a member of the majority Dinka ethnic group, sacked Mr Machar, who is from the Nuer community, in July.

The violence which broke out in Juba last weekend has since spread, pitting gangs of Nuer and Dinka against each other.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that he was “very concerned at the situation in South Sudan”.

He added that it was “vital that all leaders urge restraint on their supporters and commit to a political resolution of their differences”.

Source:BBC

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