The White House on Thursday said that all children under five years old who were separated from their parents at a U.S. border crossing have been reunited, two days after a court-mandated deadline.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Health and Human Services said that only 57 children out of the 103 in HHS custody were reunited with their parents.
A federal judge previously ordered the White House to return all children age 4 and younger to their parents by July 10.
“As of this morning, the initial reunifications were completed. Throughout the reunification process our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a joint statement.
HHS stated that the 46 children that were not reunited apparently were not eligible for reunification because their parents haven’t cleared background checks, or they have criminal records or have been deported without their children.
DHS’s Matthew Albence told reporters that the 12 adults who have already been deported were offered to take their children with them, but declined, adding that the DHS is attempting to contact those individuals.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the parents in a class-action lawsuit, said it was still deciding what to recommend to the court for the government’s missed deadline.
“If in fact 57 children have been reunited because of the lawsuit, we could not be more happy for those families,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.
“But make no mistake about it: the government missed the deadline even for these 57 children. Accordingly, by the end of the day we will decide what remedies to recommend to the court for the non-compliance,” Gelernt said.