DHS Refuses to 'Reunite' Children with Adults Who Aren't Their Parents

DHS Refuses to 'Reunite' Children with Adults Who Aren't Their Parents

Judge Dana Sabraw in U.S. District Court in San Diego told government attorneys he would not extend deadlines he set two weeks ago for the Trump administration to reunite the children under five with their parents by Tuesday and 2,000 other children by July 26.

Of the almost 3,000 migrant minors who were separated from their parents and placed in federal custody, the Trump administration says at least 102 are under 5 years old. Today's secretive reunification operation will be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and will involve transporting the children hundreds of miles across the country to undisclosed locations.

Authorities said most of the parents would be released into the USA from immigration detention centers, and the children would be freed from government-contracted shelters and foster care.

"Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours ... has taken significant steps", Gelernt said.

On Friday, the administration asked the judge for more time but Sabraw said he was sticking to the deadline unless there was a good case for certain exceptions.

On Tuesday, with the court-mandated deadline looming, the government responded. In the courtroom, they expressed openness to collaborating on several issues, including searching for parents who have been removed from the USA and double-checking the criminal records.

Speaking to reporters just before his flight to Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Trump blamed his administration's failure to meet the court's deadline on the detained families themselves, saying the "solution" to the crisis he created is "don't come to our country illegally".

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The infant is one of hundreds of children who have yet to be reunited with their parents, with many separated from their families under the Trump administration's recently rescinded "zero tolerance" family separation policy. Another 16 will follow shortly, bringing to 54 the number of children returned to their parents as part of the first wave of court-ordered reunifications that represent the end of the Trump administration's most dramatic attempt to curtail illegal border crossings.

"Records show the parent and child might be USA citizens", lawyers for the government wrote in the filing.

Ten of the children were ineligible for family reunification because their parent was in the "custody of U.S. Marshals Service" or "state or county custody".

"The kids are all over the country", ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said. The ACLU claims that the government initially provided incomplete information about the children.

Federal agencies have until July 26 to return children 5 and older who are among the "under 3,000" taken from their parents. The families will be released after they are reunited. They have to conduct criminal background checks of the parents. A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days. Of that group, they said, 34 parents had undergone and passed criminal background checks and DNA verification.

Despite the delays, Sabraw reportedly said he had seen "real progress and I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and then we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what time-frame will be in place". One area of disagreement is DNA testing on parents and children, with the government saying it should be the general rule and the ACLU saying it should be done only when no other evidence is available to prove parentage.

The hearing only covered the roughly 100 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents under the administration's "zero tolerance" border prosecution policy.

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