DNA tests ordered to reunite separated migrant families

DNA tests ordered to reunite separated migrant families

The Trump administration on Friday asked a federal judge to grant it more time to reunite some of the almost 3,000 immigrant children who were separated from their parents in recent months under the "zero tolerance" policy.

Azar said Thursday morning that an army of government workers had been dispatched to review files and conduct DNA testing to match parents with their children.

Government officials feel aggrieved in general at the stress caused by their practice, now halted, of separating parents and children in enforcing misdemeanor border-crossing crimes.

The government also has to screen parents to make sure they don't present a danger to a child, are able to provide care and have "not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child", according to the court filing.

The government is also asking the court to leave out of the ruling parents who have already been deported, citing "the complexities involved in locating individuals who have been removed, determining whether they wish to be reunified with their child, and facilitating such a reunification outside of the United States".

LabCorp, one of the largest providers of DNA testing to prove parentage, said it is not involved in the current testing of immigrant parents and children.

"When the government wants to marshal its resources to separate families, it has shown that it can do it quickly and efficiently, but when told to reunite families, it somehow finds it too hard and cumbersome to accomplish", Gelernt said. Older children must be returned to their parents by July 26 under the court's injunction. "Parents have a choice" when they're removed from the country to leave their children behind, he said. "They need to give the child back".

Justice Department lawyers said in a court hearing Friday that of the 101 children under the age of five, 83 children have been linked to 86 parents, and 16 children remained unmatched, NBC News reported.

'We have not sent children into ICE custody yet pursuant to the court's order but we will do so as we approach the court's deadline, ' he said Thursday on a call with reporters.

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"If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law".

Advocates for immigrants have blasted the Trump administration, suggesting officials have created bureaucratic obstacles to delay the reunions.

The judge, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, set the deadline last week, writing that the "situation has reached a crisis level" and that the "chaotic circumstances" were of the government's own making. Trump's order stopped separations on June 20.

The Congolese woman, identified in court documents as Mrs. L, claimed asylum on November 1, 2017, and four days later was separated from her daughter. In a statement, an administration official said its priority was "to ensure the safety of the children in its custody".

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).

Though all detained parents had spoken by phone to their children as of Friday, as Sabraw ordered, Guadian said officials still must complete criminal background checks on the parents.

"It's deplorable they are using the guise of reuniting children to collect even more sensitive data about very young children", said Jennifer Falcon of RAICES, a Texas-based rights group representing migrant families.

The agency said it has expedited its existing process for reunification.

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