Four migrant children so far have been reunited with their parents after being separated from their families, and another 34 are expected to be reunited with a parent currently in an immigration detention facility Tuesday, according to the Trump administration.
The numbers were revealed in a court filing by the Justice Department on Tuesday, which was the original deadline a judge set for 102 migrant children under the age of 5 to be reunited with their parents in custody after the families were detained when trying to cross into the United States illegally from Mexico.
That youngest group of kids is just a small fraction of the nearly 3,000 migrant children ordered to be reunified with their parents in custody under a judicial order, after being separated as the result of a new Trump administration policy implemented in May. A judge has said that all of those children must be reunified with their families by July 26, but administration officials during a conference call with reporters Tuesday refused to say if they expected to be able to meet that deadline.
The administration told the federal judge in San Diego on Monday that it would not meet Tuesday's cutoff date for the younger cohort. Instead, a Justice Department attorney told the judge that 54 of those children would be reunited with their parents on Tuesday.
Federal officials on Tuesday said they are continuing to do DNA tests on children and their purported parents, as well as conducting background checks to ensure that the actual parents are getting the kids, and that the parents who want the children are safe to do so.
Fourteen children have been determined ineligible for reunification because either the people who claimed to be their parents are not actually their parents, or have a serious criminal history, according to the court filing.
A senior Health and Human Services Department official on Tuesday said a rapist, a kidnapper and an accused murderer are among the parents who have been denied reunification with their separated kids after their backgrounds were checked.
"Our priority is the safety of these kids," said that official, Chris Meekins, chief of staff of the HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Ten other children are not eligible for reunification because their parents are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service or are in state or county custody, the filing said.
Two children cannot be reunified with their parents because one of those kids' parents has a communicable disease, and the other does not have a suitable living condition.
The judge, Dana Sabraw, agreed to extend the deadline, but asked government lawyers to give an update on the reunification effort on Tuesday.
On Monday, another federal judge, in Los Angeles rejected a request by the Trump administration to alter a 21-year-old legal settlement in order to keep migrant children whose families are seeking asylum locked up with their parents pending the outcome of immigration proceedings longer than the 20-day cap set by that settlement.