Government will meet court deadlines

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

No children reunited yet from border separations

"We have not sent children into ICE custody yet, pursuant to the court's order, but we will do so as we approach the court's deadline".

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters there were now "under 3,000" children in HHS care, including about 100 under the age of 5.

In Friday's legal request - the government asked for more time and clarification on if their current process for confirming parentage is consistent with the court's mandate and "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".

Generally, the legal bar for separating children from parents is extremely high, involving a finding that "the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child".

Azar called the deadlines "extreme" but said HHS will comply after an extensive effort to identify children in its shelters who were separated from their parents, to confirm parentage, and to screen parents for criminal violations or other problems that could result in harm to kids.

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USA officials are now rushing to reunite more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the border after the court in San Diego ordered the government last month to halt the practice.

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.

Azar said DNA testing is being used to speed up matching parents and children. "At the same time, however, the government has a strong interest in ensuring that any release of a child from government custody occurs in a manner that ensures the safety of that child".

Faced with a barrage of criticism, Trump signed an executive order to halt the family separations, but made no specific provisions for those already split apart. Children who are aged five to 17 are to be reunited by July 26.

The department has manually reviewed the cases of all 11,800 children in its custody by working nights and weekends, White said.

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While parents were criminally prosecuted, children were placed in custody of the Health and Human Services Department. A federal judge in California has ordered the youngest children reunited by Tuesday and the rest before the end of this month.

Sabraw's ruling emerged from a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of parents separated from their children.

The judge is scheduled to hold a telephone hearing at noon Pacific Time on Friday.

"To comply with the Ms. L injunction, the government will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are apprehended at or between ports of entry and therefore subject to the Ms. L injunction", the DOJ lawyers wrote an older document attached to the new filing.

Also on Thursday, CBS News reported that a federal policy loophole allows two child migrant detention centres - the "Tent City" in Tornillo, Texas and a shelter in Homestead, Florida - to evade child welfare inspections required of other shelters. Republicans are divided among hardliners and business-oriented moderates who don't see immigration as a threat.

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