Trump Administration Wants More Time to Reunite Families Separated at the Border
06 July, 2018, 23:38 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
On Friday, lawyers acknowledged that "Although HHS is moving expeditiously to undertake these DNA tests, that process takes meaningful time, even when it is expedited-as this Court has implicitly recognized", the court documents said.
"We will comply with the artificial deadlines created by the court, deadlines that were not informed by the process needed to vet parents, including confirming parentage, as well as confirming the suitability of placement with that parent", Azar told reporters Thursday. "The Government...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".
Last week, U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego, Calif., ordered the government to return children under the age of 5 to their parents by next Tuesday. "What we care about is the kids' welfare".
But reunited families may well remain in the custody of immigration authorities.
Going forward, the DOJ says that it intends to detain families together in immigration custody - a solution it argues complies with both Sabraw's order as well as the Flores Agreement, a court settlement that limits the amount of time children can be held in immigration detention. "It's not about "zero-tolerance".so it's a much broader and inclusive set than any number that we would have discussed with you before, hence the larger number".
The government is using DNA testing to verify that parents are related to the children they claim.
The government is also asking the court to leave out of the ruling parents who have already been deported, citing "the complexities involved in locating individuals who have been removed, determining whether they wish to be reunified with their child, and facilitating such a reunification outside of the United States".
Trump says the country's current immigration laws are "insane".
Under the approach, parents and other caregivers apprehended after crossing the border were arrested and jailed, and the government placed their children with HHS.
Advocacy groups including the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, have questioned the government's contention it may need more time to safely reunite families, and have raised concerns about whether it has a comprehensive plan to bring families together. This year, HHS also took on the role of caring for children separated from their parents as a outcome of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.
"This is potentially extremely harmful in aggregating a database of DNA that people are somehow directed to provide in order to simply see their children", said Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas nonprofit.
"Congress - FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!" he tweeted. They say that the migrants were told to come back and that it was not an effort to push them into illegally crossing between borders, where they would be more likely to be detained and face criminal prosecution. DHS's attempt to attribute it to the president's controversial immigration push appears to ignore the agency's own statement, which links to US Customs and Border Protection numbers showing that there's a decline in apprehensions almost every year around this time.
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