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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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Antarctic ship: New bid to free vessel trapped in ice

BBC

The BBC’s Andrew Luck-Baker: “We’re wondering if this is our lucky break.”

An Australian vessel is en route to East Antarctica in a renewed bid to free a scientific mission ship trapped in dense pack ice since Tuesday.

Earlier rescue attempts by Chinese and French icebreakers were foiled by the thick ice.

However, a BBC correspondent on the Russian research vessel says big cracks have appeared, raising hopes that it may even be able to move on its own.

Seventy-four scientists, tourists and crew are on the Academician Shokalskiy.

The vessel is being used by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition to follow the route explorer Douglas Mawson travelled a century ago.

The Shokalskiy remains well stocked with food and is in no danger, according to the team.

Despite being trapped, the scientists have continued their experiments, measuring temperature and salinity through cracks in the surrounding ice.

Unpredictable weather

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is coordinating the rescue, said the Aurora Australis was expected to reach the trapped research ship on Sunday around 12:00 GMT.

The powerful icebreaker can cut ice up to 1.6m (5.2ft) thick – potentially still enough to plough through the estimated three-metre wall surrounding the Shokalskiy.

If this latest relief operation fails, passengers could be winched to safety by a helicopter on board the Chinese icebreaker, which had to abort its rescue mission on Saturday.

The Snow Dragon came within seven nautical miles (11 km) of the Russian ship before stalling and being forced to return to the open sea.

The BBC’s Andrew Luck-Baker, who is part of the expedition, said the helicopter flew around the Shokalskiy on Sunday to see if the Snow Dragon could launch another attempt to break through the ice.

Our correspondent says a change in wind direction and slightly warmer temperatures have caused the ice to break and formed pools of water.

But he also warns that conditions could worsen again because of the Antarctica’s extremely unpredictable weather.

Chris Fogwill Chris Fogwill and the team are retracing the steps of Douglas Mawson a century ago
This handout image released by the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales and taken by Andrew Peacock of www.footloosefotography.com on December 27, 2013 shows the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice at sea off AntarcticaThe Shokalskiy was trapped by thick sheets of ice driven by high winds
This handout image released by the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales and taken by Andrew Peacock of www.footloosefotography.com shows the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice at sea off Antarctica (27 December 2013)The scientists have continued to carry out experiments in the ice
This handout image released by the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales and taken by Andrew Peacock of www.footloosefotography.com shows the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice at sea off Antarctica (27 December 2013)An Australian rescue boat is not expected to reach the Russian expedition until Sunday

The Shokalskiy was trapped on Christmas Day by thick sheets of ice, driven by strong winds, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart – the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania.

Science volunteer Sean Borkovic earlier told the BBC: “I’ll always remember this, that’s for sure. It’s brilliant. We’ve got some lovely light and the weather’s pretty mild considering. The ship looks solid. I think we’ll be good.”

A visit from Secret Santa and a sumptuous Christmas dinnercontributed to the mood of optimism.

The goal of the modern-day Australasian Antarctic Expedition is to repeat many of the original measurements and studies of the Mawson expedition to see how facets of the environment have changed over the past century.

View from the ship - image from BBC's Andrew Luck-Baker on boardThe crew aboard the Shokalskiy are surrounded by awe-inspiring views
View from the ship - image from BBC's Andrew Luck-Baker on boardAnd they have some curious neighbours

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