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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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U.S. jobless rate falls to six-year low in September

Job seekers adjust their paperwork as they wait in line to attend a job fair in New York

(Reuters) – U.S. employers stepped up hiring in September and the jobless rate fell to a six-year low, which could bolster bets on a Federal Reserve rate hike in mid-2015.

Friday’s report on hiring is the most significant gauge of the economy’s health ahead of Nov. 4 congressional elections.

While President Barack Obama’s message of an improving economy has been hampered by persistent drops in family incomes under his watch, the hiring data underscored the strides made in the labor market this year.

U.S. non-farm payrolls rose by 248,000 last month and the jobless rate fell to 5.9 percent, two-tenths of a point below its level a month earlier and the lowest since July 2008, the Labor Department said. The results showed a stronger labor market than analysts had anticipated.

“As demand is continuing to accelerate just a bit, businesses are being compelled to hire at faster pace,” said Russell Price, an economist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Michigan.

Most investors are betting the Fed will wait until July to raise its benchmark interest rate, which has been near zero since 2008, although bets on a June hike increased following the release of the data. Yields on government debt and prices for U.S. stock futures rose.

The pace of hiring in America’s economy has decidedly stepped up this year. The gain in payrolls over the last six months is now at its highest level since before the 2007-09 recession.

The government said 69,000 more jobs had been added to payrolls in July and August than previously estimated. Factories added 4,000 jobs in September. The retail sector added 35,300 jobs, which the government said largely reflected an end to employment disruptions at a grocery chain in New England.

There were some downsides in the report. Notably, part of the decline in the unemployment rate was because workers left the labor force. The share of the population with jobs or hunting for one fell to 62.7 percent, its lowest level since 1978.

That rate has declined in recent years as more workers have retired and as people have given up job hunts due to a weak economy.

Still, a measure of unemployment that partially takes into account worker discouragement – which the government calls the U-6 rate – fell last month to 11.8 percent, its lowest since October 2008.

The number of people who held part-time jobs but wanted full-time work declined to 7.103 million, slow progress among a group of workers watched closely by America’s central bankers.

Most economists see the economy expanding at around a 3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, well above the average over the last two years of 2.2 percent.

But solid economic growth and hiring is insufficient for the Fed to initiate an early interest rate increase.

Several officials at the U.S. central bank have expressed concern in recent weeks that inflation remains too low, a sign that a significant amount of slack remains in the economy. Fed policymakers will scrutinize Friday’s data as they prepare for a policy meeting on Oct. 28-29.

Average hourly earnings increased a modest 2.0 percent in September from a year earlier, roughly the level that has been seen in recent years. Before the last recession, hourly earnings often rose at above 3 percent a year.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade gap unexpectedly narrowed in August to its smallest level in seven months on an increase in exports. The trade gap fell 0.5 percent to $40.1 billion.

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