United States officials have resorted to DNA testing on up to 3,000 detained children who remain separated from their migrant parents, a top official said Thursday as President Donald Trump's administration struggles to rapidly reunite families at the center of a border crisis. "It must comply with the time frame unless there is an articulable reason", U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said when issuing the ruling, according to The Associated Press.
The order gives the government until July 10 to reunify children under 5 with their parents, and until July 26 for older children.
As the ACLU argued in Friday's court hearing, those steps were originally designed for vetting a non-parent sponsor taking custody of a child who immigrated to the US alone, not for reuniting children with their own parents. Today marks the deadline for the communication part of the order.
Gelernt said the ACLU was concerned that parents would be put on the street without any money in an unfamiliar city.
"ICE will take custody and then release the parent and child together", she said.
The administration says federal law requires it to ensure that children are safe and that requires more time. The process takes about a week, he said in the declaration, though it can take longer to complete verification.
The motion also asked for clarification on the class of unauthorized immigrants that Sabraw's order applies to, including whether it includes parents who have already been deported.
Baby Jesus 'held in detention' during church immigration protest
The large exhibit is in the front lawn of the church - and it's guaranteed to get a lot of attention. The church set up the caged nativity scene Monday night as part of its #EveryFamilyIsHoly campaign.
More than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents since early May under the Trump administration's controversial policy, which seeks to criminally prosecute anyone crossing the border illegally. The mothers have since been reunited with their children. Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, told reporters on Thursday that under 3,000 children in total were separated by the government, though he couldn't specify the exact number.
Dozens of HHS personnel have spent nights and the weekend manually reviewing the files of the 11,800 children in its care, looking for indication of separation in the records.
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.
Young immigrants and arrive with their parents at the Catholic Charities RGV after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
During the hearing the ACLU also accused the Trump administration of missing 10 children in its count of those in its custody aged newborn to five.
One administration official involved in the effort said Friday that the process of reuniting migrant children with their parents had been sped up considerably with the use of DNA screening instead of consular records.
The other parents have either been deported, failed a criminal background check, were unable to prove they were the parent or had been released and immigration agents had been unable to contact them, said Fabian.