A federal judge has said the administration of US President Donald Trump must meet a deadline set for reuniting dozens of migrant children under the age of five with their parents or face penalties.
US District Judge Dana Sabraw said on Tuesday that he was sticking to deadlines he set last month, despite government officials indicating they would be unable to meet the target.
Sabraw had ordered 63 of a group of 100 children under five to be reunited by July 10 and another 2,000 to be back with their parents by July 26.
“These are firm deadlines; they are not aspirational goals,” Sabraw said. “I would like the process to continue as expeditiously as it has been with paramount focus on the children’s welfare.”
The federal judge also called on the American Civil Liberties Union to file papers on Thursday, suggesting remedies if the government had not reunified the 63 children by Tuesday “or within immediate proximity of today.”
Washington has reportedly asked Sabraw to extend the deadlines because it needed time to test DNA to confirm family relationships, run background checks, locate parents who were released from custody and review parental fitness.
The US president seemed to express indifference earlier in the day when asked about his administration’s inability to meet the court-imposed deadline.
“Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn.
“I’m saying this: We have laws. We have borders,” he added. “Don’t come to our country illegally. It’s not a good thing.”
The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal immigration has led to family separations at the US border with Mexico.
Broadcast pictures of young children held in enclosures behind chain-link fences have triggered angry protests across the US and elsewhere so far.
More than 2,000 separated children are currently in the US government’s custody, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which claims that it is aware of their locations and is making an effort to reunite them with their families.
More than half of American voters say they disapprove of the way the businessman-turned-politician has handled immigration, according to a recent survey by Quinnipiac University.
Just 39 percent of those polled said they approve of the president’s policy, while 58 percent said they disapprove. – Press TV.