Trump administration to hasten officer deployment to U.S.-Mexico border: statement

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks beside Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez (not pictured) during a multilateral meeting at the Honduran Ministry of Security in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera/File Photo

By Yeganeh Torbati

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration will speed up the deployment of hundreds of officers on the southern border of the United States and will dramatically expand a policy of returning migrants seeking asylum to Mexico, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Monday.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency first announced the redeployment of 750 officers to process a surge of migrant families entering the United States last week.

In a written statement, Nielsen said she had ordered CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to undertake “emergency surge operations” and immediately speed up the reassignment.

CBP also has the authority to raise the number of redeployed personnel past 750, and will notify Nielsen if they plan to reassign more than 2,000 officers.

The agency will also “immediately expand” a policy to return Central American migrants to Mexico as they wait for their asylum claims to be heard by “hundreds of additional migrants per day above current rates,” Nielsen said.

That would be a dramatic expansion of the policy, dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols, put in place in January. As of March 26, approximately 370 migrants had been returned to Mexico, a Mexican official told Reuters last week.

Asked about the numbers, a DHS spokeswoman declined to confirm them and said the policy “is still in the early stages of implementation.”

The policy is aimed at curbing the flow of mostly Central American migrants trying to enter the United States. Trump administration officials say a system that allows asylum seekers to remain in the country for years while waiting for their cases to move through a backlogged immigration court system encourages illegal immigration.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued the Trump administration over the policy, claiming it violates U.S. law.

But following a March 22 hearing on whether the program should be halted, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco ordered both sides to submit further briefing on the question of whether or not the California court has jurisdiction to preside over the case, likely prolonging any decision on the policy.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Grant McCool and Meredith Mazzilli)

U.S. Congress advances border security bill without Trump border wall

A visitor walks by the U.S. Capitol on day 32 of a partial government shutdown as it becomes the longest in U.S. history in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress on Thursday aimed to end a dispute over border security with legislation that would ignore President Donald Trump’s request for $5.7 billion (£4.45 billion) to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border but avoid a partial government shutdown.

Late on Wednesday, negotiators put the finishing touches on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, along with a range of other federal agencies.

Racing against a Friday midnight deadline, when operating funds expire for the agencies that employ about 800,000 workers at the DHS, the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and others, the Senate and House of Representatives aimed to pass the legislation later on Thursday.

That would give Trump time to review the measure and sign it into law before temporary funding for about one-quarter of the government expires.

Failure to do so would shutter many government programs, from national parks maintenance and air traffic controller training programs to the collection and publication of important data for financial markets, for the second time this year.

“This agreement denies funding for President Trump’s border wall and includes several key measures to make our immigration system more humane,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat, said in a statement.

According to congressional aides, the final version of legislation would give the Trump administration $1.37 billion in new money to help build 55 miles (88.5 km) of new physical barriers on the southwest border, far less than what Trump had been demanding.

It is the same level of funding Congress appropriated for border security measures last year, including barriers but not concrete walls.

Since he ran for office in 2016, Trump has been demanding billions of dollars to build a wall on the southwest border, saying “crisis” conditions required a quick response to stop the flow of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants, largely from Central America.

He originally said Mexico would pay for a 2,000-mile (3,200-km) concrete wall – an idea that Mexico dismissed.

Trump has not yet said whether he would sign the legislation into law if the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate approve it, even as many of his fellow Republicans in Congress were urging him to do so.

Instead, he said on Wednesday he would hold off on a decision until he examines the final version of legislation.

But Trump, widely blamed for a five-week shutdown that ended in January, said he did not want to see federal agencies close again because of fighting over funds for the wall.

Senator Richard Shelby, the Republican negotiator who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a Twitter post he spoke to Trump later on Wednesday and he was in good spirits. Shelby told Trump the agreement was “a downpayment on his border wall.”

‘NATIONAL EMERGENCY’

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is in regular contact with the White House, said Trump was “inclined to take the deal and move on.”

But Graham also told reporters that Trump would then look elsewhere to find more money to build a border wall and was “very inclined” to declare a national emergency to secure the funds for the project.

Such a move likely would spark a court battle, as it is Congress and not the president that mainly decides how federal funds get spent. Several leading Republicans have cautioned Trump against taking the unilateral action.

Under the bill, the government could hire 75 new immigrant judge teams to help reduce a huge backlog in cases and hundreds of additional border patrol agents.

Hoping to reduce violence and economic distress in Central America that fuels immigrant asylum cases in the United States, the bill also provides $527 million to continue humanitarian assistance to those countries.

The House Appropriations Committee said the bill would set a path for reducing immigrant detention beds to about 40,520 by the end of the fiscal year, down from a current count of approximately 49,060.

Democrats sought reductions, arguing that would force federal agents to focus on apprehending violent criminals and repeat offenders and discourage arrests of undocumented immigrants for minor traffic violations, for example.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, which is run by Republicans, said there were provisions in the bill that could result in an increase in detention beds from last year.

Lowey said the bill would improve medical care and housing of immigrant families in detention and expand a program providing alternatives to detention.

The wide-ranging bill also contains some important domestic initiatives, including a $1.2 billion increase in infrastructure investments for roads, bridges and other ground transport, as well as more for port improvements.

With the 2020 decennial census nearing, the bill provides a $1 billion increase for the nationwide count. Also, federal workers, battered by the record 35-day partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22 as Trump held out for wall funding, would get a 1.9 percent pay increase if the bill becomes law.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Robert Birsel and Chizu Nomiyama)

U.S. says foreign meddling didn’t affect 2018 election systems

People fill out their ballots during the midterm election at Philomont Fire Station, in Purcellville, Virginia, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. officials said on Tuesday that foreign actors did not have a significant impact on computer systems and other equipment underpinning the November, 2018 congressional elections, despite reports of hacking attempts.

The statement by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security contrasted with U.S. officials’ view that the 2016 presidential election was the target of a sophisticated Russian hacking and propaganda campaign to help Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hilary Clinton.

The two agencies said the U.S. government has found no evidence that foreign governments or agents had an impact last November, when Democrats won control of the House of Representatives.

Neither political campaigns nor electronic voting machines or other infrastructure was significantly affected, they said in a joint statement. They declined to provide further details.

U.S. prosecutors are investigating whether President Donald Trump’s campaign worked with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election. Trump has denied any collusion, and Moscow has also denied involvement.

Security experts have warned for years that U.S. election infrastructure — voting machines, voter registries and other computer systems — could be manipulated to change vote tallies or prevent people from casting ballots.

The 2016 election also illustrated how hackers can compromise candidates by releasing internal emails and other sensitive documents, and by working to sway public opinion through social media.

Ahead of the November 2018 election, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials warned that foreign actors were continuing their manipulation efforts. Prosecutors charged a Russian national with participating in a Kremlin-backed plan to interfere in the election.

Some state and local governments reported attempts to access their networks ahead of the November 2018 election, but U.S. officials said they were able to prevent or limit access.

On the night of the Nov. 6 election, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said there were no signs that voting systems had been breached.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect Republican candidates, said it was the target of a hacking attempt last year. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, running for re-election in West Virginia, also said his social-media accounts had been hacked.

U.S. intelligence officials warned last week that Russia and China are already targeting the 2020 presidential election.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham and David Gregorio)

Trump to lawmakers: Don’t waste your time, deal needs wall

U.S. President Donald Trump announces a deal to end the partial government shutdown as he speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With little time to craft a deal over funding security operations on the U.S.-Mexico border, a bipartisan group of lawmakers was to meet in a public work-session on Wednesday even as President Donald Trump maintained a hard line on constructing a massive wall.

Congressional negotiators are up against a Feb. 15 deadline for agreeing on funding through Sept. 30 for several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and its border operations.

Realistically, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have about a week to settle differences and still give the full House of Representatives and Senate time to debate and vote on any deal.

A 35-day partial shutdown of agencies was triggered on Dec. 22 when Trump refused to sign funding bills that did not contain $5.7 billion for a wall along the southwestern U.S. border.

Faced with steadfast opposition in the Democratic-majority House, Trump relented on Friday, agreeing to re-open federal agencies temporarily without his $5.7 billion request. In return, Congress agreed to a special panel to negotiate a border security deal.

Trump has threatened a resumption of the record-long shutdown if the panel fails to find common ground or produces a plan he does not like.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump warned: “If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time!”

Physical barriers have long been installed on parts of the border to keep out illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants and more are underway.

It was unclear whether Trump, who views the current arrangement as insufficient, would accept a simple continuation of such installations. Building a wall on the U.S. southern border – with Mexico paying for it – was one of Trump’s most often repeated promises during the 2016 presidential campaign. Mexico has refused to pay for a wall.

Democrats, arguing a border wall is ineffective, say they want a mix of security tools: drones, sensors, scanning devices and fences, along with more border patrol agents.

Wednesday’s committee meeting might be the only public session since behind-the-scenes negotiations are the stage for the real bargaining.

The session is expected to mainly allow the seven Senate negotiators and 10 House negotiators an opportunity to make opening statements. The committee is headed by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat, and Republican Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

With a mix of wall supporters and opponents, it is unclear whether the panel will reach agreement.

Republican Representative Kay Granger was optimistic, telling reporters she and Lowey “have worked together well” over the years.

If Congress denies his request, Trump has threatened to declare a “national emergency” in order to take existing funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes – possibly from the Defense Department, for example – to build his wall.

There is bipartisan opposition in Congress to that plan, which likely would spark legal challenges since the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate funds and direct their use.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)

U.S. to return first Central American asylum seekers to Mexico

A migrant man and woman, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America tying to reach the United States, carry their belongings during the closing of the Barretal shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Julia Love

TIJUANA (Reuters) – The United States will send the first group of Central American asylum seekers back to Mexico on Tuesday, a U.S. official said, as part of a hardened immigration policy to keep migrants south of the border while their cases are processed in U.S. courts.

Tuesday’s return of migrants was to be carried out under a policy dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman said. Mexican officials had said on Friday that the transfers would happen that day.

MPP was implemented “once the appropriate field guidance was issued,” Waldman said.

A Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the first group would be sent across on Tuesday.

Under MPP, the United States will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in U.S. immigration courts.

Asylum seekers have traditionally been granted the right to stay in the United States while their cases were decided by an immigration judge, but a backlog of more than 800,000 cases means the process can take years.

U.S. authorities are expected to send as many as 20 people per day through the Mexican border city of Tijuana and gradually start sending people back through the other legal ports of entry, Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

The U.S. policy is aimed at curbing the increasing number of families arriving mostly from Central America to request asylum who say they fear returning home because of threats of violence there. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump says many of the claims are not valid.

(Reporting by Julia Love in Tijuana, Yeganeh Torbati in New York and Dave Graham in Mexico City; Writing by Delphine Schrank and Anthony Esposito; editing by Grant McCool)

Congress to push stop-gap funding bill with no border wall money

FILE PHOTO: Workers on the U.S. side, work on the border wall between Mexico and the U.S., as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress, aiming to avoid a partial government shutdown at the end of this week, began advancing legislation on Wednesday to temporarily fund several federal agencies through Feb. 8, but without money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall that President Donald Trump demanded.

“We’ll soon take up a simple measure that will continue government funding into February so that we can continue this vital (border security) debate after the new Congress has convened” in January, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

A Senate Democratic aide said the appropriations bill, which would keep the Department of Homeland Security and several other agencies operating on a temporary basis, was expected to pass the Senate either on Wednesday or Thursday.

The House of Representatives would then have to pass the bill and hope that Trump signs it into law, avoiding a shutdown because existing funding for the agencies will expire at midnight on Friday.

By postponing decisions on spending for the agencies that also includes the departments of Justice, Commerce, Interior and Agriculture, Democrats will be in a somewhat stronger bargaining position next year when they take majority control of the House.

Democrats and many Republicans have challenged the wisdom of giving Trump $5 billion this year, and ultimately a total of at least $24 billion, to build a wall that they argue would be less effective in securing the border than building on a mix of tools already in place.

In a last-ditch attempt to resolve the impasse this year, Trump and McConnell on Tuesday proposed giving Trump a $1 billion fund that he could use at his discretion for border security.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer labeled that a “slush fund” that would lack the votes to pass Congress.

On Wednesday, McConnell attacked Democrats for rejecting it, saying, “It seems like political spite for the president may be winning out over sensible policy.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)

U.S. military receives request for troops to protect border

By Phil Stewart and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has received a request from the Department of Homeland Security for active-duty troops on the U.S.-Mexico border, a U.S. official said on Thursday, after President Donald Trump said he was “bringing out the military” to guard against a caravan of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico.

The U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. military was examining the request that could require deploying between 800 and 1,000 active-duty troops to the border to assist with logistics and infrastructure.

The U.S. official said that any troops deployed to the border would not be involved in “law enforcement” activities, something that would be prohibited by a federal law dating to the 1870s.

That law restricts the use of the Army and other main branches of the military for civilian law enforcement on U.S. soil unless specifically authorized by Congress. But the military can provide support services to law enforcement and has done so on occasion since the 1980s.

Some specific statutes authorize the president to deploy troops within the United States for riot control or relief efforts after natural disasters.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has taken a hard line toward immigration – legal and illegal – since becoming president last year. On Monday, Trump said he had alerted the Border Patrol and the U.S. military that the migrant caravan was a national emergency.

Despite raising Trump’s ire, thousands of Central American men, women and children seeking to escape violence, poverty and government corruption in their home countries continued their journey toward the distant U.S. border. Under a full moon early on Thursday, they walked from Mapastepec, close to the Guatemala border in southern Mexico. A town official said there had been 5,300 migrants in Mapastepec on Wednesday night.

A second group of more than a thousand people has started a similar journey from Guatemala.

“I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the migrants.

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Trump’s comments regarding a military deployment and a national emergency.

Trump and his fellow Republicans have sought to make the caravan and immigration major issues ahead of the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections in which the party is trying to maintain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

It is not new territory for Trump, who pledged during the 2016 presidential race to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. However, funding for his signature campaign promise has been slow to materialize even though his party controls Congress and the White House.

In April, frustrated by lack of progress on the wall, Trump ordered the National Guard to help secure the border in four southwestern states. There are currently 2,100 National Guard troops along the borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Also in April, Trump raised the prospect of sending active-duty military forces to the border to block illegal immigration, raising questions in Congress and among legal experts about troop deployments on American soil.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Delphine Schrank in Mapastepec, Mexico; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Will Dunham)

FBI chief says threats from drones to U.S. ‘steadily escalating’

FBI Director Christopher Wray, testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – FBI director Christopher Wray told a U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday that the threat from drones “is steadily escalating” even as Congress gives agencies new tools to address threats.

Wray told the Senate Homeland Security committee that the FBI assesses that “given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, (drones) will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering.”

Wray made his comments days after President Donald Trump signed into law legislation that gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI new powers to disable or destroy drones that pose a threat to government facilities.

The new law also requires DHS to conduct several assessments to evaluate emerging threats that drones may pose to state or private critical infrastructure entities and domestic airports. Wray said the risk has “only increased in light of the publicity associated with the apparent attempted assassination of Venezuelan President Maduro using explosives-laden” drones.

Wray noted the FBI had disrupted a plan in the United States to use drones to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol building. In 2012, Rezwan Ferdaus was sentenced to 17 years in prison for attempting to conduct a terrorist attack.

Ferdaus, who held a degree in physics, obtained multiple jet-powered, remote-controlled model aircraft capable of flying 100 miles per hour and planned to fill the aircraft with explosives and crash them into the Pentagon and the Capitol using a GPS system in each aircraft.

Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the committee, said earlier this year that the number of drone flights over sensitive areas or suspicious activities has jumped from eight incidents in 2013 to an estimated 1,752 incidents in 2016, citing federal statistics.

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the drone provision, saying it “amounts to an enormous unchecked grant of authority to the government to forcefully remove drones form the sky in nebulous security circumstances.”

The FBI has said drone threats could include surveillance, chemical, biological or radiological attacks or attacks “on large open-air venues” and attacks against government facilities.

Since 2017, federal officials have banned drones over U.S. military bases, national landmarks, nuclear sites and other sensitive areas. The Defense Department previously was given authority to address drone threats to military facilities.

More than 1 million U.S. drones have been registered, the Federal Aviation Administration said in January.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Port of San Diego hit by ransomware attack

FILE PHOTO: A tourist sightseeing boat motors through San Diego harbor in San Diego, California, U.S., June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Port of San Diego said on Thursday that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security were investigating a ransomware attack that disrupted the port’s information technology systems.

“This is mainly an administrative issue and normal Port operations are continuing as usual,” the Port of San Diego’s Chief Executive Officer Randa Coniglio said in a statement.

The cyberattack has not affected public safety operations or ship and boat traffic. Public services related to park permits, public records requests and business services have been disrupted, Coniglio said.

A ransom note from attackers requested payment in Bitcoin. Port officials declined to disclose the amount of that demand.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown)

U.S. moving some detained migrant parents closer to their children

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By Yeganeh Torbati and Tom Hals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is moving some migrant parents to detention sites closer to the young children they were separated from while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunify families, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Thursday.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego last month ordered the government to stop separating children from immigrant parents entering the United States illegally and set deadlines for the government to reunite families.

The judge’s order followed a political firestorm over U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and beefed up efforts to deter illegal U.S. entry.

Sabraw set a deadline for children under 5 years old to be reunited with their parents by July 10, and for all children to be reunited by July 26. He also set a deadline of Friday for parents to be in phone contact with their children.

Azar said that based on a comprehensive audit by HHS and immigration authorities, there were now fewer than 3,000 children in HHS care who may have been separated from parents taken into custody for crossing the border illegally or for other reasons, such as concern over safety of the child.

Of that group, approximately 100 children are under the age of 5, he said.

To speed the reunification process, the Department of Homeland Security is relocating parents of children under 5 years old to detention facilities close to their children “so that we can as expeditiously as possible reunite the children with their parents to meet the court’s deadline,” Azar said.

No children have yet been reunified with parents in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that will soon happen to meet the court deadline, Azar said.

He added, however, that deadlines imposed by the court will require a “truncated vetting process” and that the government will likely “seek additional time to ensure that we can do the job that we believe is necessary to protect the children in our care.”

Government personnel are currently collecting cheek swab DNA samples from parents and children in order to verify family relationships, said Jonathan White, deputy director for children’s programs at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the HHS office that takes care of the children.

White described the DNA process as faster than verifying relationships through documents such as birth certificates.

“We have to protect children from people who would prey on them, and that is what we are doing,” he said. “These DNA results are being used solely for that purpose and no other.”

In a reversal last month, after family separations at the border triggered a groundswell of opposition, Trump ordered that detained migrant families be kept together if possible.

In the past, families detained while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were often released from custody to pursue their immigration cases while living freely in the United States, but the Trump administration has made clear that it intends to end what it derides as “catch and release” immigration policies.

A 1997 court ruling known as the Flores settlement has been interpreted to prevent detention of children for more than 20 days, which is one reason the administration gave for its policy of separating families when it decided to keep parents in custody.

Last month, the administration asked a federal court to modify the agreement so that it could detain children longer. It filed court papers last week saying it believed it had the right, under the current settlement, to hold children longer in order to enable family reunification and prevent future separations.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, which filed a lawsuit challenging the family separations, questioned the government’s contention it might need more time to safely reunite families.

“When the government wants to marshal its resources to separate families, it has shown that it can do it quickly and efficiently, but when told to reunite families, it somehow finds it too difficult and cumbersome to accomplish,” he said.

Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, said her organization, which provides legal assistance to unaccompanied minors, was unaware of any comprehensive government plan for uniting families.

One test will be if the government can meet Friday’s deadline to get parents in touch with their children by phone, she said.

“If they fail to meet that deadline, I think it calls into serious question whether they will be able to meet the reunification deadlines in the coming weeks,” Young said.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Tom Hals; Editing by Tom Brown and Sue Horton)