AP: About 500 kids reunited with families since May

People in custody at U.S. Border Patrol's Central Processing Station in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018 — Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump’s order allowing them to remain with their parents (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

A senior Trump administration official says about 500 of the more than 2,000 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May.

The official said Thursday those children had been separated from their parents as a result of a “zero tolerance” policy that calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the U.S. border illegally. The official was not authorized to give out the number and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The official says many of the children were reunited within days after being separated from their families. The official wasn’t certain how many of the reunited children remained in custody with their families or how many were no longer in the country.

The official says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Health and Human Services are working to set up a centralized reunification process at the Port Isabel Detention Center near Los Fresnos, Texas.

---Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington, D.C.


6:45 p.m.

An email from the federal public defender’s office that covers cases from El Paso to San Antonio shows that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be dismissing cases in which parents were charged with illegally entering or re-entering the country and were subsequently separated from their children.

The notification came Thursday afternoon from the federal public defender’s office for the western district of Texas.

El Paso immigration attorney Carlos Spector says the notice puts “a major dent” in the zero-tolerance policy as it implies that federal officials will not be prosecuting these cases. It’s unclear how many cases have been and will be dismissed as a result.

With the criminal charges dismissed, Spector said this removes the basis for separating children from their parents.