Many politicians and civil rights groups are pushing for the Trump administration to reunite all children back with their parents, and the ACLU has filed a class-action lawsuit in order to expedite the reunification process.
Trump's hardline immigration policy refers all apprehended undocumented adults for criminal prosecution - a break with past administrations who limited criminal referral for most adults who illegally cross into the USA with their juvenile family members.
The administration said another 46 children under the age of five remain separated from their families because of safety concerns and other issues.
Of the kids under the age of 5 deemed ineligible for reunification, 12 have parents who were already deported by the USA government.
In a joint statement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged that a "tremendous amount of hard work and obstacles" remain in the reunification process.
In separating families, Trump sought to advance a hard-line immigration policy that past administrations had considered and quickly abandoned as inhumane.
Having admitted it was not going to be able to comply with the original court-ordered deadline to reunite all children under the age of 5 with their families separated at the border by July 10, the government said 57 of the 103 children who were in custody of Health and Human Services (HHS) have now been returned to their parents.
She set a Tuesday deadline for children under 5 to be reunified and July 26 for the older children.
But my mid June, when the government admitted that more than 2,000 children had been separated while their parents were held in detention awaiting court dates, the administration came under pressure to rescind it. But make no mistake about it: "the government missed the deadline even for these 57 children".
He beamed while his son asked questions and played with toys when they were reunited at a federal immigration office in MI on Tuesday.
He spoke Wednesday at Annunciation House, an El Paso, Texas-based shelter, along with another father recently reunited with his child.
In their update on the reunification efforts, the three cabinet secretaries defended the Trump administration's handling of the family separations.
As Slate notes, "The documents do not indicate that ORR officials have specific knowledge that family separations will increase but do show that the agency is preparing for the possibility".
Fifty-seven children were reunified with their parents as of Thursday morning, administration officials said. One more was added since Tuesday because the parent who had originally declined reunification "changed his mind", Immigration and Customs Enforcement official Matthew Albence said on a call with reporters.
In some cases, he said, "If we had just reunited kids with the adults, we would be putting them in the care of a rapist, a kidnapper, a child abuser, and someone who was charged with murder in their home nation". Fabian said another 12 have parents in state or federal prison.
During the hearing in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Marisol Orihuela, a Yale professor working on the case, said the plaintiffs want the court to rule to have the children - identified as J.S.R. and V.F.B. - and their parents released immediately. Eleven others are either in custody for other unspecified offenses, while the last adult's whereabouts are unknown. And the Justice Department manages the immigration courts.
Jennye Mariel Pagoada Lopez, 24, said one night she got so sick that a fellow detainee was forced to scream and wave at a security camera to get her help - but the officials who arrived still refused to get her to a doctor, despite her heavy bleeding.
On Thursday, the government will give the court a progress report on the younger children and whether it expects to meet the deadline for the older group.