US immigration

Donald Trump administration tries to delay reuniting immigrant children with parents

US officials say they are using ‘time-consuming’ procedures like DNA testing to confirm parentage

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2018, 2:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2018, 6:37am

The US Justice Department told a federal judge that the government needs more time to “safely” reunite almost 3,000 children with their parents.

US District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego previously ordered the US to return all children under age five to their parents by July 10 and all other minors by July 26.

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US officials on Thursday said that while they believe they’re in compliance with “all aspects” of the order, they want the deadlines modified because government agencies – including the US Department of Health and Human Services – are following “time-consuming” procedures like DNA testing to confirm parentage.

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

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Children in custody and their parents are also undergoing DNA cheek swabs, which will take about a week to confirm a match, the US said.

Health and Human Services has deployed 115 workers to “engage directly” with children in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security.

The agency also has about 100 “reunification case managers” and 40 additional staff members working to reunite families, according to court filings.

About 101 children under age five are in the care of Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to the government. Officials are reviewing records of 11,800 children in that office’s custody to see if they have been separated from their parents at the border.