Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

USA says reunification of young migrants completed

USA says reunification of young migrants completed

Javier, a 30-year old from Honduras, holds his 4-year old son William during a media availability in NY after they were reunited after being separated for 55 days following their detention at the Texas border, U.S., July 11, 2018.

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"That is going to be a significant undertaking", U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw said on Tuesday of the next deadline. They said they had to conduct DNA tests on all parents and children to ensure that they were indeed related, and had to conduct background checks on parents to ensure that children weren't being handed over to criminals.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt sought assurances from the government on Monday (Tuesday NZT) that advocates would be in position to guide parents when they are released in a foreign land.

Before departing the White House for Europe, Trump said, "That's the solution". Immigration attorneys say they already are seeing barriers to those reunifications from a backlog in the processing of fingerprinting of parents to families unable to afford the airfare to fly the child to them - which could run as high as $1,000.

He asked the government to return to court on Friday to give an update on how many families had been reunited.

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"Their children are stranded in this country", the ACLU said of the children of deported parents.

Parents were taken into criminal custody and then held in immigration detention centers, deported or released in the United States.

Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were "under 3,000" separated children in all.

As Slate notes, "The documents do not indicate that ORR officials have specific knowledge that family separations will increase but do show that the agency is preparing for the possibility".

Disqualifications include 22 children who were not reunified due to concerns that they would not be safe with the adult with whom they crossed the border.

A different judge, in Los Angeles, on Monday dismissed as "dubious" and "unconvincing" the U.S. Justice Department's proposal to modify a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement, which says that children can not be held in detention for long periods, irrespective of whether they're with their families. The government disputed that, saying it provides DNA testing at no cost to verify parentage. Afterwards, the ACLU expanded its suit on behalf of the other parents and children the government planned to imminently separate.

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Despite these efforts, there's a chance the government's list of young children awaiting reunion may actually grow before authorities can reduce it further. Physicians and others blasted the policy and warned about lasting psychological damage to children and parents. He also set July 26 as the deadline to reunite almost 3,000 children over age 5.

Sabraw agreed that not all 103 children could be reunited and that certain cases are too complicated to complete within his deadlines.

The government has reportedly struggled to offer exact information about the number of children separated from their parents.

"Each step of our process is necessary to protect children", HHS official Chris Meekins, chief of staff in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, told reporters on a press call.

The administration's shift to rely on ankle bracelets followed an order issued Monday by a federal judge in Los Angeles, rejecting the Justice Department's request to modify a long-standing legal settlement outlining how long immigrant minors may be detained.

Federal officials said they are reunifying as many children as they can and attributed delays to "legitimate logistical impediments" that make it "impossible or excusable" to meet the court's deadlines. Meanwhile, some separated children have been entered into an Obama-era foster care system, where temporary guardians described them as "shell-shocked".

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"But until I have both my children with me, I don't know what I will do", she said.

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