Trump Administration Asks for More Time to Reunite Families Separated at Border
10 July, 2018, 00:06 | Author: Essie Rivera
And officials have repeatedly declined to respond to questions about how many families have been reunited.
Lawyers for the Trump administration appeared once again in a courtroom in San Diego to ask a federal judge to push back his deadline for the reunification of children under five years old who were taken from their parents at the U.S. -Mexico border.
That left the government scrambling in recent weeks after Judge Dana Sabraw ordered it to reunite the families it separated and stop the practice of splitting up children and parents.
Immigrant families line up to enter the central bus station after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Sunday, June 24, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
Officials were trying to match the remaining parents with their children, said Jonathan White, a top federal official working on the reunification effort.
During the June 27th ruling, the Judge stated that "Measures were not in place to provide for communication between governmental agencies responsible for detaining parents and those responsible for housing children, or to provide for ready communication between separated parents and children". They will need more time to collect DNA samples or other evidence from parents who have been released from government custody.
But such exhaustive protections, including home visits and the fingerprinting of every member of a household where a child will be residing, are slowing down reunifications, said the lawyer, Lee Gelernt.
Judge Sabraw also scheduled a status hearing on Monday morning, saying he hopes an agreement can be reached regarding whether Tuesday's deadline will need to be extended.
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"We want to ensure that we can reunite children who have been separated from their families as expeditiously as possible", wrote Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, and Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
"It doesn't make sense", Gelernt said. "You've taken a child from the parent".
Reviews of children in the older age group are still ongoing.
Health and Human Services must determine that a "parent is not 'unfit or presents a danger to the child, '" which means the agency must also have "an independent finding that the individual has not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child", before reunification.
The Justice Department told a federal judge that the government needs more time to "safely" reunite nearly 3,000 kids with their parents.
Parents who were deported without their children likely asked that their kids remain in the U.S., Azar said. That lawsuit was filed even before Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the "zero tolerance" policy in April, promising to prosecute all illegal border crossers.
In Friday's legal request - the government asked for more time and clarification on if their current process for confirming parentage is consistent with the court's mandate and "seeks clarification that in cases where parentage can not be confirmed quickly, HHS will not be in violation of the Court's order if reunification occurs outside of the timelines provided by the Court".
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