Just over half of separated children have been reunited with families ahead of deadline

Image: Immigrants Reunited With Their Children After Release From Detention In TX
A woman, identified only as Heydi and her daughter Mishel,6, and a man, identified only as Luis, and his daughter, Selena ,6, relax together in an Annunciation House facility after they were reunited with their children in El Paso, Texas on July 26, 2018.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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By Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has reunited 1,442 out of 2,551 migrant children with their parents ahead of a midnight Pacific court-ordered deadline, according to a court filing that captured data as of 6 a.m. Eastern on Thursday.

But 711 children have not been reunited with their parents and the government has not committed to a timeline for finding them.

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The majority of those, some 431 children, have parents who have been deported, according to the court filing and government officials who held a call with reporters Thursday afternoon.

“By the court deadline this evening we are on track to reunite all eligible parents within ICE custody,” said Chris Meekins, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Parents still in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody have been the easiest to reunite — but for those who are deported or have been released into the United States, the path to reunification is much more difficult.

Asked whether the government would commit to reunifying children with parents outside of ICE custody, Meekins said they would wait and see “what [the judge’s] vision is for the process we should take.”

Earlier in the week, the government said it expected to reunify 1,637 parents with their children. Asked on Thursday whether that was still the goal, the officials said “the data is dynamic,” refusing to commit to a number for reunification.

A Justice Department spokesperson said, “The expected total number of eligible potential class members in ICE custody [seeking to be reunited], who will not have been reunited [by the end of the day].”

Julia Ainsley reported from Washington and Jacob Soboroff reported from New York.