Lugging little backpacks, smiling immigrant children were scooped up into their parents' arms Tuesday as the Trump administration scrambled to meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite dozens of youngsters forcibly separated from their families at the border, the AP reports. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, two boys and a girl who had been in temporary foster care were reunited with their Honduran fathers at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement center about three months after they were split up. The three fathers were "just holding them and hugging them and telling them that everything was fine and that they were never going to be separated again," said immigration lawyer Abril Valdes, and the children were "absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again." Lawyers said the fathers were too distraught to speak to the news media.
The Justice Department said more than 50 children under age 5 could be back in the arms of their parents by the deadline at the end of the day. It was the largest single effort to date to undo the effects of President Trump's zero-tolerance policy of separating families who try to slip across the Mexican border into the US. Authorities gave few details on where the reunions would be held, and many were expected to take place in private. Government attorneys, meanwhile, told a federal judge in San Diego that the Trump administration would not meet the deadline for 20 other children under 5 because it needed more time to track down parents who have already been deported or released into the US. Asked about the missed deadline, the president said: "Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution." The administration faces a second, bigger deadline—July 26—to reunite perhaps 2,000 or so older children who were also separated from their families at the border in the past few months.