Trump Admin Asks Court For More Time To Reunite Immigrant Families

Aaron Brown
July 8, 2018

The total number of children taken from their parents may be as high as almost 3,000, he said.

In mid-June, the Department of Homeland Security said it separated almost 2,000 children from their parents in April and May after the Department of Justice announced a "zero-tolerance" policy to prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally.

Azar said Thursday morning that an army of government workers had been dispatched to review files and conduct DNA testing to match parents with their children.

"The safety and security is paramount and that it is not uncommon for children to be trafficked or smuggled by those claiming to be parents".

Falcon, communications director for RAICES, a nonprofit in Texas that offers free and low-priced legal services to immigrants and refugees, called the move deplorable because collecting such sensitive data would allow the government to conduct surveillance on the children "for the rest of their lives".

Sabraw also blocked the administration from deporting adults without their children unless the parent "affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily declines to be reunited with the child" prior to being expelled from the country.

Before the USA reunites a child with a parent, a painstaking process called a "safety and suitability analysis" is conducted to determine whether a parent is fit or doesn't pose a danger to the child, Jonathan White, deputy director for children's programs at the department's Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a court filing.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said that private organizations would be eager to assist the government in reuniting the separated families. Older minors must be reunified with their parents by July 26.

The government says DNA testing is a faster means of confirming parentage than relying on assembling documents such as birth certificates. "HHS anticipates, however, in some instances it will not be able to complete the additional processes within the timelines the Court prescribed, particularly with regard to class members who are already not in Government custody, (e.g., because they have previously been paroled or released)".

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Mr Azar said that in order to comply with the deadline, normal vetting processes may need to be abandoned.

Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and other Democrats on the panel requested the information on June 17, but say they've received no response.

Advocates for immigrants have blasted the Trump administration, suggesting officials have created bureaucratic obstacles to delay the reunions.

Standard procedure requires checking backgrounds of the people in the home, but the government says that may not be possible in all cases before the judge's deadline.

The executive order that ended family separations did not lay out steps for reuniting families.

By July 6, officials must make sure every separated parent has a way to contact their child.

Justice Department lawyers said in a court hearing Friday that of the 101 children under the age of five, 83 children have been linked to 86 parents, and 16 children remained unmatched, NBC News reported.

The Trump administration has been scrambling to streamline the process of reuniting migrant children and their families, as the human toll of President Donald Trump's immigration policy becomes apparent and the political pressure grows to quickly address it.

He also ordered that parents have phone contact with their children by Friday.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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