Immigrant families granted permission to reunite in the US

Undocumented immigrant families are released from detention at a bus depot in Texas, USA.
Undocumented immigrant families are released from detention at a bus depot in Texas, USA. Photo credit: Reuters

A US federal judge has approved a plan to reunite hundreds more families who were separated by border officials after they entered the United States from Mexico.

The plan, negotiated by the US government and immigrant rights advocates, marked the second stage of federal efforts to reunite 2551 children ages five to 17 with their parents.

These families had been separated under President Donald Trump's now-abandoned "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal immigrants.

As of Thursday (local time), 541 of the children remained separated and under care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, while another 24 aged fewer than five also remained in federal care.

More than 2000 children have already been reunited with their parents.

The plan sets out processes to locate parents outside the country, assess their fitness as parents, and determine their intentions for their children.

It also includes provisions negotiated this week, including that the government arrange travel for reunited children and not impair their right to seek future asylum.

Mr Trump abandoned the separation policy on June 20 after widespread criticism at home and internationally.

Lawyers for the families had argued that some parents may have unknowingly waived their reunification rights, and that children have a right to their parents' help in seeking asylum.

Reuters