Trump Administration Will Not Meet Deadline for Reuniting Young Children

HHS Secy Pushes Back on Reports of Mass Confusion in Reuniting Migrant Families

Before the US reunites a child with a parent, the government must make sure that children will be safe and determine whether a parent is fit, Jonathan White, deputy director for children's programs at the department's Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a court filing.

Immigrant children now housed in a tent encampment under the new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration are shown walking in single file at the facility near the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 19, 2018.

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. "You've taken a child from a parent".

The process includes taking DNA cheek swabs from parents and children to verify their familial relationship, as well as checking parents for any criminal history that might make them unfit to care for their children.

In the court filing, the Justice Department sought clarification on whether they have to reunite migrant kids with parents who were already deported and appeared to argue that would be too hard and time consuming.

The lawyers informed the court they may not be able to comply with the court-ordered timeline for reunification because some families may no longer in government custody, due to parole or release - which then extends the time needed to vet the parent to ensure parentage and child safety.

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.

Amid an worldwide outcry, Donald Trump reversed course on 20 June and said families should remain together.


Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday there were "under 3,000" children separated from their parents.

As Common Dreams reported, a federal judge ruled late last month that the Trump administration must reunite children under the age of five within 14 days and all of the almost 3,000 children it separated from their parents within 30 days.

Reviews of children in the older age group are still ongoing. "There was no reunification plan in place, and families have been separated for months".

But DNA testing would, in theory, speed it up dramatically.

"I believe that they can still reunite some [more] individuals by tomorrow", Gelernt said Monday, according to the Post.

"The results of that work have been highly encouraging, and the Department of Justice is eager to present its progress to the court on Monday and to chart a path forward to safely reunifying other families expeditiously", the official added.

New figures released by DHS show overall apprehensions at the southwestern border dropped by 18 percent in June from the previous month, to 34,114. Its database has some information about the children's parents but was not created to reunify families by the court's deadline.

Fabian explained that the administration has so far matched 86 parents to 83 children, with 16 still to be matched.

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