US using DNA to reunite 3000 migrant children, parents

07 July, 2018, 08:50 | Author: Kim Reid
  • HHS using DNA testing in order to reunite migrant families 'faster'

The Trump administration says it is now testing the DNA of parents and children to ensure that children are released to the correct adults.

Federal Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite children under the age of 5 with their parents by July 10 and all children by July 26.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters "under 3,000" children are now under HHS care, which includes the 100 under the age of 5.

The administration has matched 86 parents to 83 children and 16 are not yet matched, Fabian said.

More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May that the zero-tolerance policy was in full effect, even if it meant that families were to be separated as a outcome. And we're using DNA testing to confirm parentage quickly and "proper and careful vetting for child safety".

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They will need more time to collect DNA samples or other evidence from parents who have been released from government custody. As of Thursday, Health and Human Services said "under 3,000" children were still separated from their families. That deadline in some cases doesn't give authorities enough time to ensure children are returned to.

At that hearing, Judge Dana Sabraw asked how numerous approximately 100 children under age 5 the government believes could be reunified by the Tuesday deadline. Still, Azar insisted his agency would comply with the court's order.

"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.

While illegal immigrant children have dogged the government for years, dating back to the Obama administration, this latest go-around has been more pointed because some of it is a result of President Trump's get-tough policy on the border.

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".

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Even as the Trump administration implemented its zero tolerance crackdown on immigration - which saw immigrant children split up from their parents and transferred to specifically designated shelters and foster care systems run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement - reports emerged that the government was ill-equipped to undo the logistical nightmare it had set into motion.

The department has manually reviewed the cases of all 11,800 children in its custody by working nights and weekends, White said.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued the government does not have to follow such "lengthy, cumbersome procedures" to reunite separated families.

He added that he believed the complexity of the reunifications was caused by the federal judge's "extreme" deadlines and the U.S. immigration system itself - not the Trump administration.

Azar said on Thursday that HHS "will comply with the artificial deadlines created by the court", but that federal officials are focusing for now on confirming family matches prior to reunification.

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