Immigrant fathers are reunited with their young children in West Texas

Protesters call for immigrant families to be kept together at a rally in Austin on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

TEXAS -- Three children who were separated from their undocumented immigrant parents under the Trump administration's “zero tolerance” policy were reunited with their fathers late Tuesday, a shelter director in this border city announced.

Ruben Garcia, the director of downtown El Paso’s Annunciation House, said he received a call just after 6 p.m. local time alerting him that three fathers and their children, all four years old or younger, were scheduled to be reunited and delivered to his shelter.

“They also had no idea this was coming — they were told, 'Get your things,'” Garcia told reporters late Tuesday.

The reunions came hours before a court-ordered mandate for the Trump administration to reunite parents with children five years old or younger who had been separated under the policy.

Garcia said he didn’t know how much the deadline played into Tuesday night’s reunions but said he was told federal officials expressed a sense of urgency to complete the task by Tuesday.

“No, we want the reunification to happen today,” he quoted government officials as saying.

The fathers were all being held in a detention facility in nearby Otero County, New Mexico, and were reunited with their children at an undisclosed government location.

Garcia said none of the parents were required to provide DNA samples to prove they were the children’s parents and that they met all the federal government's requirements to prove their relationship, although he couldn’t say exactly what those requirements were.