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US government reunites 522 children removed under 'zero tolerance'

The department said in a statement US Customs and Border Protection expects a small number of children separated for reasons other than zero tolerance would remain separated, including if the familial relationship cannot be confirmed.

Protestors pray outside the Otay Mesa Detention Center during a demonstration against US immigration policy that separates children from parents, in San Diego, California 23 June 2018. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - The US Homeland Security Department said late Saturday the government has reunited 522 children separated from adults as part of a “Zero Tolerance” initiative and plans to reunite another 16 children over the next 24 hours.

The department said in a statement US Customs and Border Protection expects a small number of children separated for reasons other than zero tolerance would remain separated, including if the familial relationship cannot be confirmed.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to end his policy of separating immigrant children from their families on the US-Mexico border, after images of youngsters in cages sparked outrage at home and abroad.

The department also said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has 2,053 separated minors in HHS-funded facilities “and is working with relevant agency partners to foster communications and work towards reuniting every minor and every parent or guardian via well-established reunification processes.”

Currently, 17 percent of minors in HHS funded facilities were placed there as a result of the Zero Tolerance enforcement effort, and the remaining 83% arrived in the United States without a parent or guardian, it said.

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