DHS Refuses to 'Reunite' Children with Adults Who Aren't Their Parents
11 July, 2018, 05:35 | Author: Kristen Ingram
Almost 3,000 kids were separated from their parents as a result of the White House's zero toleranceimmigration policy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar estimated last week.The government has not said how many of them were reunited with their parents, and officials have asked for more time to meet one of the reunification deadlines. Their reasoning: DNA testing is faster than authenticating documents, and protects children - especially the youngest - from being handed to people who may not be their biological parents. After reunification, they face a series of other obstacles - including long, complex legal proceedings, and possibly deportation.
He told reporters that 14 illegal immigrants could not be reunited with children because some had criminal histories, some were determined not to be the parents of the children and one had a communicable disease. Some families are only partially reunified; a child may be returned to his mother, for instance, while his father remains in detention.
"This is real progress, I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow", he told the courtroom.
Thousands of babies, toddlers and older children were separated from their parents at the border this spring before Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an worldwide outcry over the images of youngsters in chain-link cages and audio recordings of children crying. He asked attorneys for the government and the ACLU to file court papers by Monday night outlining their proposed reunification plans, with the ACLU calling for a more expedited process.
Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were "under 3,000" separated children in all.
Parents were taken into criminal custody and then held in immigration detention centers, deported or released in the United States. However, the Trump administration balked at the deadlines, claiming they were "artificial" and "not informed by the process needed to vet parents, including confirming parentage, as well as determining the suitability of placement with that parent", according to the Hill.
Most of the parents will be released into the USA from immigration detention centers, and the children will be freed from government-contracted shelters. She said the kids were blameless and such an arrangement was not in their best interest. While parents are held in jail to await trial by a judge, children are moved into accommodation managed by an HHS agency.
About 40 other very young children will not be returned to their parents yet, despite a court-imposed deadline, because the Trump administration either has not finished matching them with their parents or has not cleared the parents to take custody.
As for most of the rest of the under-5 children who have yet to reunited with their families, Fabian said that their parents have already been released into the United States, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.
"Let me be clear: HHS could have transferred every child out of our care to a parent who is now in DHS custody today if we did not take into account child safety or whether the adult is actually the parent", Chris Meekins of Health and Human Services Department said in the call.
The illegal alien parents of 51 more children are "likely eligible" for the same catch-and-release treatment.
Sarah Fabian told Judge Dana M. Sabraw on Monday that the DOJ, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, had thus far only reunited two of the children in question with their parents, but that it could reunite as many as 54 more by Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit group - which offers free and low-priced legal aid to immigrant and refugee families - announced that it would be offering $20 million to pay off bail bonds for over 2,000 mothers now detained by the US government.
Disagreements arise when it comes to the protocols to be followed in more complicated reunification cases.
The hearing also barely touched on the more than 2,000 children still in government custody who will need to be reunited in coming weeks.
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