Feds say 711 immigrant children can't be reunited with parents ahead of deadline

Deadline to reunite families
Deadline to reunite families 02:02

Last Updated Jul 26, 2018 7:18 PM EDT

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The Trump administration struggled to meet a court-imposed deadline Thursday for reuniting immigrant children and their parents. Nearly 2,600 children ages 5 years and older were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The government announced Thursday evening that 1,820 of those children have been reunited with their parents, while 711 children remain in custody because their parents or relatives are ineligible for reunification.

Romela Victoria Isaula and her 13-year-old son Geronimo were finally reunited after crossing the border near El Paso in May and being separated for two months.

"I am so happy because I have her close," Geronimo said through a translator.

Now they are heading to Massachusetts where they'll wait for a judge to decide whether they'll be granted asylum or sent back to Honduras.

Romela Victoria Isaula and her son Geronimo are reunited Thu., July 26, 2018. CBS News

The teenager is one of more than 1,800 children recently reunified with a parent or other family member. However, more than 400 of the 711 still in custody have parents who may have already been deported.

"I'm worried here that we have 460 parents who have now been deported to Central America and there is a very high likelihood that those parents are not going to see their children again," said John Sandweg, a former acting director of Immigration Customs Enforcement.

Immigration attorneys say the government is making unilateral decisions that include a parents' health condition and possible criminal history, with no oversight.

"There's a lot of concern that those standards are being inconsistently applied, or parents are being arbitrarily denied access to their children," Sandweg pointed out.

For the hundreds of ineligible children, shelters will continue to be their home while the government figures out its next move.

Meanwhile, the ACLU is asking the federal judge for a new deadline of August 1 for more information on the reunifications which would the government's feet to the fire. Thursday afternoon, the Department of Justice announced they will have reunified all eligible families by the end of the day. 

Immigrant families reunite, but many in limbo... 02:41
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    Mireya Villarreal is a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles.