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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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Iraq troops arrest leading Sunni MP in violent raid

A man stands guard near the home of prominent Sunni Muslim lawmaker Ahmed al-Alwani after clashes with Iraqi security forces in the centre of Ramadi

1 OF 3. A man stands guard near the home of prominent Sunni Muslim lawmaker Ahmed al-Alwani after clashes with Iraqi security forces in the centre of Ramadi, December 28, 2013.

CREDIT: REUTERS/ALI AL-MASHHADANI

 – Iraqi security forces arrested a prominent Sunni Muslim lawmaker and supporter of anti-government protests in a raid on his home in the western province of Anbar, sparking clashes in which at least five people were killed, police sources said.

The violent arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani is likely to inflame tensions in Sunni-dominated Anbar, where protesters have been demonstrating against what they see as marginalization of their sect by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government.

Alwani belongs to the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and has been a strong critic of Maliki and an influential figure in the protest movement.

Police sources said a two-hour firefight broke out on Saturday when bodyguards and members of Alwani’s tribe resisted police and soldiers who went to arrest Alwani on charges of “terrorism” from his house in the center of the city of Ramadi.

They said those killed in the fighting included three of Alwani’s bodyguards, his sister and his brother.

“Army troops with police special forces were trying to arrest Alwani from his house, but fierce fighting erupted. Five bodies, including one woman, were taken to Falluja hospital,” one police source said.

No members of Alwani’s family could immediately be reached to give their version of events. Parliament speaker Usama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, called the operation a “blatant violation” of Iraq’s constitution and a “dangerous precedent”.

VIOLENCE RISING

Lieutenant-General Ali Ghaidan, commander of Iraqi ground forces, told state television that security forces had also tried to arrest Alwani’s brother Ali, whom he accused of involvement in attacks that killed Iraqi soldiers in Anbar.

Ali was killed in the fighting, as well as one Iraqi soldier, Ghaidan said.

“We treated Ahmed al-Alwani well. We told him that we had a warrant for his arrest, and arrested him,” he said, adding that two of Alwani’s bodyguards were wounded in the operation, which he said was carried out in accordance with the law.

Violence in Iraq is at its worst levels since 2006-7, when tens of thousands of people were killed in fighting between Sunnis and Shi’ites. Bombings, shootings and suicide attacks, many staged by al Qaeda militants, are a near-daily occurrence.

The Iraqi army this week launched a major operation in desert areas of Anbar, a province that makes up a third of Iraq’s territory and is populated mainly by Sunnis, to flush out al Qaeda-linked militants who have gained a foothold there.

Another potential flashpoint is around Sunni protests that have been held in Anbar since December last year. In a statement on state television on Friday, Maliki said it would be the “last Friday” the protests and sit-ins would be allowed to continue.

The military campaign and the arrest of Alwani may help Maliki boost his popularity in the eyes of Shi’ites who had called on him to crack down on al Qaeda and on politicians they accused of encouraging violence. Elections are due in April.

CURFEW IMPOSED

Many Sunnis in the region are meanwhile likely to see Alwani’s arrest as another example of what they portray as a crackdown against minority Sunni leaders.

A photo of the arrested lawmaker posted on Maliki’s Facebook page purportedly showed Alwani after the arrest with a white bandage wrapped around his abdomen.

Authorities imposed a curfew in Anbar province after the arrest, security sources said. A convoy of army tanks, armored vehicles and Humvees began to arrive in Ramadi by midday.

But scores of people took to the streets carrying guns to defy the curfew, a Reuters witness said.

Adnan al-Muhanna, leader of the al-Bu Alwan tribe, a major Sunni tribe in Anbar to which Alwani belongs, called on the government to release Alwani within 12 hours.

“Otherwise we will not be able to restrain the angry masses and that could lead to undesired consequences,” he told Reuters.

Anbar’s provincial council held an urgent session and called for Alwani’s release and an investigation into the death of his brother, a copy of a statement seen by Reuters said.

The statement also called on all parties to exercise restraint and urged parliament to intervene and defuse tension.

(Reporting by Kamal Namaa in Ramadi and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Rosalind Russell and David Evans)

Source:Reuters

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