Sunday, 24 March, 2019

Migrant parents, children given DNA tests

Patty Aguilar | 06 July, 2018, 03:25

DNA testing is being conducted as part of the process to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the border, a federal official with knowledge of the reunifications told CNN.

He added that DHS is relocating parents of the children between ages zero and four to facilities "extremely close" to their children, "so we can as expeditiously as possible, reunite children with their parents to meet the court's deadline".

The Trump administration is now in the process of reuniting families, in part by using DNA tests to confirm whether they are related.

The news comes a week after a California federal judge told the Trump administration it needs to immediately reunite families it had separated as part of its "zero tolerance" policy of criminally prosecuting asylum-seeking parents who enter the USA between official ports of entry.

A 1997 court ruling known as the Flores settlement has been interpreted to prevent detention of children for more than 20 days, which is one reason the administration gave for its policy of separating families when it chose to keep parents in custody.

He noted that some children may have become separated either before or after crossing into the US.

"We have to protect children from people who would prey on them, and that is what we are doing", he said.

Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, said her organization, which provides legal assistance to unaccompanied minors, was unaware of any comprehensive government plan for uniting families.

Azar said the administration will use "every minute of every day" to confirm the parentage of children and to make sure they have a suitable caretaker. He implied that quickly reuniting children with their parents could put them in danger, mentioning two instances of parents who were found to have criminal records including child cruelty, rape and kidnapping.

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Azar blamed parents for the separations in the first place, repeatedly saying they should have gone to ports of entry or stayed home.

Handout. / Reuters Unaccompanied minors are seen at a facility in Bristow, Virginia, on June 21.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar, whose agency oversees the migrant detention centres, said slightly fewer than 3,000 children would be reunited.

Trump and members of his administration have balked at the possibility of reuniting families in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. As a result, children of those apprehended would be taken from the parents and detained separately. The administration is now fighting in court for the ability to indefinitely detain kids with their parents.

Faced with a barrage of criticism, Trump signed an executive order to halt the family separations, but made no specific provisions for those already split apart.

This post has been updated to include further context as to why officials haven't released an exact number of how many kids who are separated from parents are in an HHS-contracted facility.

The government has allegedly started collecting DNA to reunite migrant children with their families, a federal official told CNN on Thursday.

"The Trump administration's attempt to shift the blame to the court is incomprehensible given how much time the court gave the government to fix its own mess", Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said after Azar's comments.

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