The Trump administration expects all eligible children under the age of five who had been separated from their parents as a result of the zero tolerance policy to be reunited by Thursday morning, according to a report published late Wednesday.
A total of 51 children are either eligible or in the process of being confirmed eligible to be turned over to parents in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, a Department of Health and Human Services official told reporters Tuesday afternoon. Four have been returned, and 34 parents have been approved for reunification; each parent belongs to at least one child.
HHS said on Wednesday that it expected the 34 kids eligible for reunification to be back with parents by the end of the day, Reuters reported.
HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw had extended the initial Tuesday evening deadline for releasing the youngest of unaccompanied children to verified parents..
These 51 children are on a faster track to reunification than another set of 53, who are facing complications and may never be reunified with their parents. For example, 20 children cannot be reunited with parents because of “logistical” issues, which Chris Meekins, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response chief of staff, said was because they are being deported.
Another 16 parents have cleared background tests, but have not had their relationship to the child verified.