U.S. Authorities are now stretched to their limits trying to comply with a court-ordered deadline to reunite migrant children with their families, and the Trump administration has asked a judge for more time on Friday, July 6.
A U.S. court has ordered the Trump administration to reunite families who were separated at the border, with children being taken away from their parents and guardians with the imposition of a "zero tolerance" policy that started earlier in June.
Most of the heavy work fell to the Health and Human Services (HHS), which has manually looked over the cases of the 11,800 children it had under its custody. HHS staff has pulled nightly overtime and worked through the weekends to review all those cases, according to HHS official Jonathan White via Time Magazine.
Still, there is not enough time to do the job properly, the Trump administration explained in the papers it filed with a judge in San Diego, asking for an extension of the July 10 deadline for children under 5 years old in custody.
The current deadline is also set for July 26 for children 5 and older, but the administration countered that federal law also requires them to ensure the safety of the children, and it would take more time to do just that.
"There are then some groups for whom the reunification process is more difficult," administration lawyer Sarah Fabian appealed to the judge, as quoted by the Washington Post.
"In some cases if we're not, for example, aware of where the parent is, I can't commit to saying that reunification will be able to occur by the deadline," she explained. The recent move by the Trump administration has received its share of criticisms, in the meantime.
"I can't believe they have the nerve to ask for more time," Susan Church, a Boston immigration lawyer, said about the request for an extension of the July 26 deadline. She added that the government had the option to release people in their custody on a bond and have the families reunite themselves.