Judge weighs oversight ahead of deadline to reunite families

SAN DIEGO (AP) With one deadline behind, a judge will consider Friday how closely to monitor the Trump administration as it faces a bigger deadline on reunifying families separated at the border.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the administration failed to meet last Tuesday's deadline to reunify dozens of children under 5 years old and should therefore be closely watched as a July 26 deadline approaches to have more than 2,000 children 5 and older rejoin their parents.

The administration disputes that characterization, saying it reunified all 58 children under 5 who were eligible and that it complied with the judge's order. It acknowledged that 19 of the 58 were reunified Wednesday and one was on Thursday two days after the deadline "for logistical reasons specific to each case."

Friday's hearing is the fourth in eight days, a sign of how closely U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw is monitoring the process.

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Late last month, Sabraw, an appointee of President George W. Bush, gave the administration 14 days to reunify children under 5 and 30 days to reunify children 5 and older.

The ACLU said in a joint court filing Thursday that it wants the administration to deliver a list of all children 5 and older by Monday to "ensure that reunification plans are not formulated haphazardly at the last minute." It wants daily updates on the number of reunified families starting Tuesday and parental verifications and background checks completed by Thursday.

The administration agreed to deliver the list of children three days earlier than the ACLU requested, though not with the level of detail the ACLU wants. It hasn't publicly committed to any other interim steps ahead of the July 26 deadline.

The administration initially provided a list of about 100 under-5 children who were believed eligible for reunification by this week's deadline but whittled down the list to less than 60 by Thursday. It said parents of 11 children were excluded for their criminal histories and that seven turned out not to be parents. Others were determined to be a danger to the child.

The judge is also expected to weigh in on a dispute over how soon a dozen under-5 children whose parents have been deported should be reunited.

The ACLU asked that they be reunified within a week of the parent obtaining travel documents for the child, while the government seeks "a flexible schedule."