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DNA testing being done on separated migrant children and parents, official says

08 July, 2018, 02:19 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • HHS Secy Pushes Back on Reports of Mass Confusion in Reuniting Migrant Families

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.

A federal judge in San Diego who had been hearing the case of a woman separated from her child ruled on June 26 that the families must be reunited within 30 days of his order, and by July 10 if the children are younger than 5.

"DNA testing is the method of parental verification most likely to protect children from harm given the compressed time frame imposed by the court's order", White said in his declaration.

Susan Church, a Boston immigration lawyer, said the government could release migrants who are seeking asylum on bond so that they can find their children faster.

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.

The filing contained a description of steps undertaken by Health and Human Services to comply with the court order including deploying 115 additional personnel to the field, and contracting with 100 reunification managers who are deploying Friday and Saturday.

But about 20% of the kids, she said, have parents who were released from ICE custody.

The detention centres are located on federal land and are thus not subject to supervision by local governments, reports CBS News. The method they are trying to use is cheek-swab DNA tests from all the captive children. "You've taken the child from the parent".

The government also said it wanted to assure that parents could provide for the child's physical and mental well-being.




Federal officials have released updated statements revealing the total number of immigrant children in their care - a figure that includes children who crossed the border alone and children who were separated from their families after crossing.

For @SecAzar to blithely say HHS has "under 3,000" children in custody (a round number larger than the originally cited 2,047) is a shocking indication of this administration's depraved indifference.

The deadline for the list is on Saturday and US officials are expected to reunite the first round of migrant children by July 10th.

According to The Associated Press, after a two-hour hearing, the judge put the request off until at least Monday, meanwhile ordering the Justice Department to share with the American Civil Liberties Union a list of the 101 children under 5 who are separated from their parents. The order, though, didn't address how or when already-separated families would be reunited.

Azar also warned illegal immigrants that the onus was on them to stay with their children. But after separating thousands of children absent that finding, the government is now making the opposite argument - that they must clear a high bar, that it claims the court set in its order, by proving the parents are not risky or unfit before reunification can happen.

The case is Ms. L.et al v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al, 18-cv-428, U.S District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

Advocacy groups including the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, have questioned the government's contention it may need more time to safely reunite families, and have raised concerns about whether it has a comprehensive plan to bring families together.

"Because of the compressed timeframe, the typical process of using documentations is not going to be completed within the timeframe allowed in this case by the court decision for the great majority of these children", Commander Jonathan White, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, told reporters on Thursday.

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