Trump Administration Seeks More Time to Reunite Families Separated at Border

Unaccompanied minors are seen at a facility in Bristow Virginia on June 21. 

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

The Trump administration on Friday asked a federal judge for more time to reunite migrant families separated by authorities at the southwestern border, highlighting the challenge of confirming familial relationships between parents and children who now may be thousands of miles apart. In those cases, she said, more time would be necessary to link parent and child.

"The government must reunite them", the judge said.

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the ACLU who brought the class-action lawsuit on behalf of parents separated from their children even before the administration's zero-tolerance policy took effect in May, told the Sabraw the government's lack of record keeping was "startling". Another top official leading the effort said in the court filing that, although officials were working nights and over the weekend, they may be unable to quickly match some families because the tests were inconclusive, or the parents were released from custody and have not yet been found.

Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and other Democrats on the panel requested the information on June 17, but say they've received no response.

Additionally, DNA tests are being done to ensure children are reunited with actual family members.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services said there were 2,047 children from separated families in its care but since then officials have refused to specify how many kids from separated families remain in custody.

ICE has so far flown 23 parents on commercial airlines to detention facilities closer to where their children are being housed to facilitate reunions.

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

Although Azar called the court's requirement to reunite the youngest children with their parents by Tuesday "extreme", and an "artificial deadline", he said that his office has every intention of complying with the order.

The family separations saga has revealed failures of governance, competence and humanity and made one thing clear: President Donald Trump doesn't believe Harry S. Truman's famous mantra, "The buck stops here".

Federal officials have released updated statements revealing the total number of immigrant children in their care - a figure that includes children who crossed the border alone and children who were separated from their families after crossing.

Azar also warned illegal immigrants that the onus was on them to stay with their children.

A court order has bound the agency to reunite children who are aged four or less by July 10. She represents a Guatemalan woman who had an emotional reunion with her 8-year-old daughter this week after being separated for 55 days.

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). He also ordered the government to provide for communications between detained caregivers and their children and not to deport adults without their kids.

The government is scrambling to reunite as many as 3,000 children with their parents.

In light of reports that records about children and parents' whereabouts have been destroyed, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) demanded Friday that HHS and DHS be subject to an investigation for potential violation of the Federal Records Act (FRA).

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