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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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Friday, April 14, 2017

Juan Williams: GOP has lost O-Care fight

By Juan Williams – 06/30/14 06:00 AM EDT

Republicans bet the house that ObamaCare would be a disaster. They lost.

After a four-year feast criticizing ObamaCare, Congressional Republicans are now left picking at the crumbs of minor complaints. Their longstanding predictions of failure have come up empty. The healthcare reform plan is successful.

Even if Republicans gain control of the Senate in the midterm elections, the best they can do is stage the first Senate vote to repeal ObamaCare. That will come after 50 or more similar votes by the GOP majority in the House.

President Obama will veto any repeal bill, so even holding a vote amounts to one last gesture of futility from the defeated army of right-wing opposition.

More sour grapes are on display in the House. Republicans once promised to pass a detailed House plan as an alternative to ObamaCare before the midterms. But with the president’s program successfully launched, the House leadership has decided not to commit to any Republican plan until after the election.

GOP leaders rightly fear any such announcement would lead to a backlash. Voters would likely see the possibility of conservative proposals bringing forth bigger disruptions in the insurance markets and less coverage for the uninsured.

This Republican reversal of fortune on healthcare is producing sounds of silence on the campaign trail. As the predicted wave of voter anger over healthcare reform has failed to appear, several GOP candidates are saying nothing or politely suggesting small fixes to the Affordable Care Act.

New campaign ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of Republicans describe Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as willing to “fix,” not repeal, ObamaCare.

That new campaign language fits with several polls that show about 60 percent of Americans would prefer the law to be improved rather than trashed.

The McConnell instance is also a reflection of the success of ObamaCare in Kentucky, where more than 80,000 people gained private insurance and another 331,000 became eligible for Medicaid health plans. The McConnell who once bragged of his plan to destroy ObamaCare “root and branch” is out of step with those figures.

Just a few months ago, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, forecast that ObamaCare would be the number one issue used by Republicans to thump Democrats in this cycle. It would be a “category 5 political hurricane,” he insisted.

It turns out it is the Republicans who are being storm-tossed. They are nervously scavenging for anything they can find to fire up their voters.  They are jumping on complaints about the IRS; second-guessing the deal to release a prisoner of war; and ramping up complaints about the president’s decision not to keep U.S. troops in turbulent Iraq.

But those efforts have not had success. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows voters lean toward Democrats on the question of which party they want to win majority control of Congress in the midterm races. That result comes in the same poll that has the president matching his lowest job approval rating.

The problem for Republicans is stark: The steady performance of the Affordable Care Act is speaking louder than their scare tactics.

Gallup recently reported the uninsured rate for adults fell to 13.4 percent in April. It was the “lowest monthly uninsured rate recorded since Gallup…began tracking it in January 2008.” This reflects the finding of a new Kaiser Family Foundation report that 60 percent of the 8 million Americans who have signed up for Obamacare had  previously been uninsured.

The New York Times also reported that “a majority of people with new health plans purchased inside and outside the exchanges rated their coverage as excellent or good and said they were generally satisfied.”

And there is more good news on the performance of healthcare reform. The Times reported last week that more pharmaceutical companies are cutting the price of drugs to comply with requirements of new healthcare plans. In addition, more insurance companies are joining exchange programs.

On top of all this, the growth rate of Medicare spending has slowed while the Congressional Budget Office now projects a lower price tag for the Affordable Care Act as a whole. That includes potential profits for taxpayers if the government does not have to use risk pools to compensate any losses by insurance companies. And at the moment that looks to be the case.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming bipartisan vote recently gave easy confirmation to Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new secretary of Health and Human Services.

That’s a sign that, after all the sound and fury of the past few years, Republicans might soon be trying to take credit for having forced the president to make changes to ObamaCare.

Demands to repeal the law are quietly fading away.

Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel

 

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