Monday, 22 October, 2018

3,000 migrant children still separated from parents, official says

3,000 migrant children still separated from parents, official says 3,000 migrant children still separated from parents, official says
Patty Aguilar | 06 July, 2018, 23:34

He ordered them to reunite children under age 5 - there are 101, according to the most recent court records - with their parents by Tuesday.

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.

The government has more than 230 people working to match children with their parents.

US District Judge Dana Sabraw laid out a series of deadlines in his ruling. A court hearing on the administration's efforts and plans is scheduled for tomorrow.

Azar hailed the department for the "excellent" care the detained migrant children were receiving and boasted that HHS "knows the identity and location of every minor in our care".

Prosecutions have been pursued against illegal immigrants in previous administrations, but they were rarely used on families - a fact that became known among smugglers and migrants, who then began to bring their children in order to take advantage of the family "loophole".

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters there were now "under 3,000" children in HHS care, including about 100 under the age of 5. He said none had been transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody yet.

Though the government has not revealed how many parents have been deported while their children remain in custody in the US, an analysis of federal data by Syracuse University researchers estimates that number to be in the hundreds.

This isn't a flawless equation; we don't know whether the children released from HHS custody were reunited with parents - only that they're no longer in one of the agency's shelters.

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It's unclear whether that'll satisfy the judge's order, as indefinite family detention violates another court order, Flores v. Reno or the "Flores settlement", that states "accompanied" children must be detained in the least restrictive settings and for no longer than 20 days. On June 26, the agency said there were 2,047 such children.

The total number of children taken from their parents may be as high as almost 3,000, he said.

'The Government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunifications or burden class members, ' the Justice Department filing reads.

The controversial procedures are part of government efforts to meet rapidly approaching court-imposed deadlines for reuniting children with their parents, and come as the president himself once again demanded swift action by Congress to fix the country's "insane" immigration laws.

Although White said DNA will only be used for reuniting families and genetic fingerprints will remain confidential, advocates for migrant families were concerned about intrusiveness.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two named plaintiffs - a woman referred to as Ms. L. who asked for asylum at a port of entry and a woman who crossed the border illegally - both of whom were separated from their children.

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.

Health and Human Services deployed more than 200 workers to review the cases of separated children. US authorities confirmed through DNA testing on March 12 that the woman was the girl's mother and the two were reunited.

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