171 children from separated families still in US custody

Washington, Nov 9: At least 171 children from separated families still remain in US custody more than four months after a judge ordered the American government to reunite the undocumented immigrant families it had split up at the border, according to court documents.

The court documents on Thursday said the children who remain in custody, there were seven who were in the pipeline to reunite with their parents in their countries of origin and six who the US government was working to discharge to parents in America, reports CNN.

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But 146 of the children from separated families who remain in custody -- more than 85 per cent -- will not be reunified with their parents either because the parents have declined reunification or because officials have deemed it cannot occur because the parents are unfit or pose a danger, officials said.

The new numbers appear in the latest federal court filing in the American Civil Liberties Union class action case over family separations.

In June, US District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite most of the families it had divided, comprising parents and children who had been separated as a result of the government's now-reversed "zero tolerance" policy at the border and some separations that had occurred before that policy was put in place.

Sabraw said last month that he hoped the reunification process would come to a close by Friday, but Thursday's filing indicated that the reunifications weren't complete.

Officials have stressed that the numbers are constantly changing, and attorneys were still debating them as they meet to sort out the next steps in the case.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday.