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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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Saudi Arabia ‘to give Lebanon army $3bn grant’

BBC

Crowds of mourners have been gathering at a mosque in Beirut

Saudi Arabia is to give Lebanon’s army a grant of $3bn (£1.8bn, 2.8bn euros).

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman made the announcement in a televised address after the funeral of a senior Lebanese politician killed in a car bomb attack. He said it would help fight terrorism.

Mohamad Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, was a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement that backs him.

Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah have taken opposite sides in the Syrian conflict.

Coming to the boil

“The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid of $3bn to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities,” Mr Sleiman said in his address.

He said it was the largest assistance provided in Lebanon’s history and would be used to buy weapons from France.

Lebanese President Michel SleimanPresident Sleiman said the grant would enable Lebanon to ‘face terrorism’

French President Francois Hollande said his country would “meet” any demands for weapons from Lebanon during a visit on Sunday to Saudi Arabia aimed at boosting commercial ties with the kingdom.

“I am in touch with President Sleiman… If demands are made to us, we will meet them,” he said.

President Sleiman said the Saudi aid would finally allow the Lebanese army to “confront terrorism” and put an end to the proliferation of arms.

The BBC’s Arab Affairs Editor Sebastian Usher said the president indirectly touched on a dangerous taboo in Lebanon – the unchecked power of the Shia movement, Hezbollah.

That issue is coming to the boil due to the conflict in neighbouring Syria where Hezbollah is fighting on the side of President Assad, our correspondent says.

The Saudis back the other side – the mostly Sunni rebels. The kingdom also supports the pro-western March 14 alliance in Lebanon, of which Mohamad Chatah was a leading member.

Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks linked to heightened Sunni-Shia tensions over the Syrian war.

Mr Chatah was buried on Saturday amid tight security.

The former Lebanese minister and opposition figure was killed by a car bomb on Friday, which also killed six other people and injured at least 50.

Site of the explosion in Beirut (27 December 2013)Mohamad Chatah was on his way to a meeting when the car bomb exploded
Relatives mourn over the coffins of Mohammed Chatah and his aides in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday 29 DecemberMr Chatah was buried by a mosque by Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square

No-one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Mr Hariri implicitly accused Hezbollah of carrying it out.

Hezbollah rejected the accusation, calling the bombing a “heinous crime, which comes in the context of a series of crimes and explosions aimed at sabotaging the country”.

Syria also denied any involvement in the attack.

Source:BBC

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