(NBC News) Dozens of young migrant children are expected to be reunited with their families Tuesday in a massive and secretive operation that involves transporting some of them hundreds of miles.
A federal judge ordered that children younger than 5 be reunited with their families by Tuesday, but officials said they will only be able to reunite 54 of the 102 children by then.
The delays on some of the remaining cases, officials say, are due to reasons including parents with criminal records, a parent with a communicable disease and an allegation of child abuse.
The judge agreed to extend Tuesday's deadline, recognizing that some cases "will necessitate additional time."
"This was never the United States taking children away and putting them in foster care and because you crossed our border we are not going to allow you to have your children back. It's two different agencies, HHS has one responsibility and DHS has another," said Republican Senator James Lankford.
Critics disagree, and the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the government.
"They separated these children, took them away for months, but didn't have clear records about which children belonged to which parents," notes the ACLU's Lee Gelernt.
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