USA using DNA testing in effort to reunite families it separated

HHS Secy Pushes Back on Reports of Mass Confusion in Reuniting Migrant Families

DNA tests ordered to reunite separated migrant families

A Justice Department lawyer told the judge Friday that reunions should happen swiftly for approximately half of the 101 children under age 5 who are being held in shelters overseen by Health and Human Services.

On Thursday, he said there are somewhere "under 3,000" children who were believed to have been separated, but that includes kids who may have lost parents along the journey, not just parents who were detained at the border.

Government officials feel aggrieved in general at the stress caused by their practice, now halted, of separating parents and children in enforcing misdemeanor border-crossing crimes. "The fact that the US government lost track of which child goes with which parent shows you the lack of competence that they have about this issue".

In the court filing, the Justice Department sought clarification on whether they have to reunite migrant kids with parents who were already deported and appeared to argue that would be too hard and time consuming.

But it said that even though the department "is moving expeditiously to undertake these DNA tests, that process takes meaningful time, even when it is expedited".

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During the hearing on Friday, the government attorney also provided an overview of the families affected. The administration stated in a court filing that determining which parents were separated from children "is extraordinarily time and resource intensive"-yet another sign that it did not keep adequate records to easily track the families it was separating at the border". The method they are trying to use is cheek-swab DNA tests from all the captive children.

'Once we reunify children with their parents, they will be in DHS custody and DHS will be in charge of further proceedings related to the parents and the child, ' Azar said. "HHS anticipates, however, in some instances it will not be able to complete the additional processes within the timelines the Court prescribed, particularly with regard to class members who are already not in Government custody, (e.g., because they have previously been paroled or released)".

Azar said reunited families would remain in custody of the Department of Homeland Security as their cases are adjudicated.

Azar also warned illegal immigrants that the onus was on them to stay with their children. But administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity portrayed the operation as a bureaucratic nightmare involving different computer systems, databases and filing systems, and staffs that have been at odds with one another about how to proceed and what information to share with the public.

The latest information we have was provided to CNN by a USA 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.

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Standard procedure requires checking backgrounds of the people in the home, but the government says that may not be possible in all cases before the judge's deadline.

One of the biggest challenges: ensuring parents are properly verified.

Hours before a hearing in San Diego, the Justice Department filed papers seeking an extension of the deadline, which is July 10 for parents with children under 5 and July 26 to reunite everyone else. Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an global outcry from opponents who said families should remain together.

ICE is attempting to match many more parents to older children, who the judge said must be reunited within 30 days.

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