U.S. Seeking to Delay Reuniting Immigrant Kids With Parents

Marsha Scott
July 8, 2018

"Any confusion is due to a broken immigration system and court orders", Azar said.

It will be done, he vowed.

President Donald Trump reversed course last month and signed an executive order meant to keep families together, but the administration is still facing scrutiny and questions over the families separated as a result of its widely-criticized "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

Meanwhile, in a case filing ahead of Friday's hearing, HHS wrote that it wanted to ensure children's "safety" when releasing them from government custody and that it may not be able to reunite some families if the parents have been deported. CNN first reported that the administration was conducting DNA tests on families in custody, which raised concerns among advocates and lawyers working with migrant families who have been separated. It is using DNA testing and going through case files for all 11,800 kids in its custody ― most of whom came without parents ― one by one.

Though the government has not revealed how many parents have been deported while their children remain in custody in the US, an analysis of federal data by Syracuse University researchers estimates that number to be in the hundreds.

"This is really an invasion into the most intimate, private matter and data that we have on ourselves, our DNA", he said.

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The secretary also said 230 additional workers have been assigned to work on reuniting families. "The reportedly destroyed records bear directly on the lives of thousands of immigrants seeking entry to our country, threatening the permanent separation of parents from their children". In addition to DNA testing to verify parentage, the government said it would need to perform a criminal history check, and has reviewed 300 adults with about 1,400 more to go. "It is painless and harmless to the child", White said.

"We have not [placed] children into ICE custody yet, but we will do so with the court's order and supervision", Azar said, according to CNBC. He also ordered the government to make sure all parents had a way to contact their children by July 6.

But the reunification efforts have been complicated by the fact that government records assigning "family identification numbers" to immigrant families were reportedly deleted.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants" Rights Project, said "the Trump administration's attempt to shift the blame to the court is incomprehensible given how much time the court gave the government to fix its own mess'.

Some parts of the federal judge's ruling are already being complied with, the government said: Families are no longer being separated at the border, and arrangements have been made for children and parents to communicate with each other, a provision which the judge had specified was to be in place by Friday. 'That's the simplest way to avoid this is to follow our laws, respect our border'. "Parents have a choice" when they're removed from the country to leave their children behind, he said.

On a conference call, officials from HHS said they expect approximately half of the roughly 100 children under the age of five to be reunited with their parents by Tuesday, the deadline imposed by Judge Sabraw in a decision last week. But Azar told reporters on Thursday that, in a number of ways, the department has had to "adapt" existing processes in order to meet "new demands and circumstances". "You've taken the child from the parent".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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