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Government Asks for More Time in Reuniting Separated Migrant Families
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Migrant children who were separated from their families. Photo courtesy of BBC.

Summary: The Department of Justice asked courts to extend the deadline for reuniting separated migrant children. 

On Friday, the Department of Justice asked to extend the court-mandated deadline for reuniting migrant children separated from their parents at the border.


“Defendants have dedicated immense resources and effort to reunifying families, and personnel at the highest levels of the agencies have been involved in implementing the Court’s directives,” the Department of Justice said. “To fully implement these plans, however, Defendants may need clarification on or relief from … the Court’s deadlines.”

DOJ attorneys said that they did not have enough time to verify and vet each parent before returning 3,000 children who had crossed the US-Mexico border illegally, according to NBC News. They asked the court to extend their deadline, which is coming up soon.

The courts had given the DOJ the deadline of July 10 for families with children under the age of 5 and July 26 for families with children of other ages. DOJ lawyers said they did not want to delay reunification but they needed more time to ensure the safety of the children.

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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Thursday that the government was using DNA testing to confirm that the children they were returning were the biological children of the parents. Azar said that this service was being done on all 3,000 children, as well as screenings to make sure the parents are fit.

Government lawyers said that if the court does not extend its deadline then they will have to truncate their screening process.

President Donald Trump had promised tighter immigration policies in his 2016 presidential campaign, and as president, he has abided by this. Earlier this year, his attorney general Jeff Sessions said that they were enacting a “zero tolerance” policy towards any immigrant who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border. This resulted in the separation of children from parents, who were sent to jail while their children were sent to detention centers.

The separation of families sparked a public outcry, and Trump signed an executive order on June 20, ending this action. Vox stated that a new poll revealed most Americans opposed the president’s signature immigration policies, which also include a travel ban and limiting legal immigration. 70% of respondents opposed the separation of families policy.

In Friday’s request, the DOJ said that it was difficult to reunite children if their parents were already deported and that they needed more time with these types of cases.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the government did not need to enact such cumbersome processes to reunite families.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Gelernt said to CNN. “You’ve taken a child from the parent. They need to give the child back.”

What do you think of the Department of Justice’s request? Let us know in the comments below.





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