Eligible U5s reunited with parents in US

By AAP Newswire

A Trump administration statement that all eligible migrant children under the age of five who were separated at the US-Mexico border will be reunited with their parents by Thursday morning (local US time) is being disputed by a civil liberties group.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sued the US government over its separation policies, is disputing the assertion made in Wednesday's statement.

"Their statement is vague at a minimum," ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said, noting that a San Diego judge had set a deadline of Tuesday for reuniting those children.

"We know they missed the deadline."

The US government has said some children were not eligible for reunification because their parent had either been deported, had a criminal record or was otherwise unfit.

US Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered the government to reunite children under the age of five by Tuesday and all separated children by July 26.

On Thursday, the government will give the court a progress report on the younger children and whether it expects to meet the deadline for the older group.

The US government has said around 2,300 children were separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration, which was abandoned in June after intense protests.

Gelernt said the government is not even close to reuniting all the children under five and is not being forthcoming with the numbers of how many children had been reunified.

"I've asked the government for numbers and they should have told me by now," he told Reuters.

Since coming under pressure to ease its immigration separation policy weeks ago, the US government has shifted its estimates of the number of children it would reunite.

The latest figures released by the government early on Tuesday indicated four children under five had been reunited and at least 34 more would be with their parents by the end of the day.

Catholic Charities, which helped place some of the children in shelter facilities after their separation, held a news briefing in New York at which a handful of the reunited parents expressed relief after weeks of anxiety over the separations.

"I'm happy to finally be able to be with my child. I will never be separated from him, no matter what," said a tearful Javier, a 30-year-old from Honduras, who was reunited with his four-year-old son after 55 days of detention.

"Those were the worst days of my life. I never imagined that this would happen."

US President Donald Trump used Twitter on Wednesday to blame the Democrats, among others, for failing to fix what he said is a broken immigration system.