DNA tests ordered to reunite separated migrant families

by Abel Hampton July 7, 2018, 9:07
DNA tests ordered to reunite separated migrant families

The administration has matched 86 parents to 83 children and 16 are not yet matched, Justice attorney Sarah Fabian said, according to the wire service's report.

"This isn't some vast sprawling data set that we're matching up", he said.

Alex Azar, the USA health secretary, said yesterday that officials were using DNA taken from cheek swabs of some 3,000 migrant children separated from their families and now under the agency's custody.

But a number of bureaucratic hurdles have complicated the efforts to place those children back with their parents.

The administration had previously said that just over 2,000 separated minors remained in its care.

Before the USA reunites a child with a parent, the government must make sure that children will be safe and determine whether a parent is fit, Jonathan White, deputy director for children's programs at the department's Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a court filing.

Due to those missing records, the Health and Human Services department has been plunged into a messy, laborious process to determine which children were separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border, and which arrived in the country unaccompanied.

He stressed that the department is seeking to meet a court-imposed deadline of next Tuesday to reunite some 100 detained children aged under five. "You've taken the child from the parent".

Jennifer Falcon, communication director for RAICES, a non-profit organization in Texas that gives legal assistance to immigrants, said the administration's decision to use DNA testing in the reunification process is proof officials didn't properly register adults and their children at the time of separation.

About 11,800 minors are now in USA custody after crossing over from Mexico, Azar said.

But in the court filings, the government says it "may need clarification on or some relief from certain parts of the order, so that Defendants can safely reunite families".

He added that he believed the complexity of the reunifications was caused by the federal judge's "extreme" deadlines and the USA immigration system itself - not the Trump administration.

He said that order, from Obama-appointed federal Judge Dolly Gee of Central California, conflicts with a new order from Judge Dana Sabrow, a Bush 43 appointee, which demands that children be reunited with the adults they crossed the border with.

The latest information we have was provided to CNN by a U.S. government source: a map showing that the 2,047 separated unaccompanied minors who were in custody of the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement as of June 25 were scattered across 16 states.

HHS has further confirmed with the Department of Homeland Security that about 40 parents of children under 5 are in its custody and another nine are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Migrant parents separated from their children are struggling to navigate through the system with little to no help, she says, because the system is not equipped to handle this amount of people all at once.

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".

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