Trump administration requests more time to reunite immigrant families

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Going forward, the DOJ says that it intends to detain families together in immigration custody - a solution it argues complies with both Sabraw's order as well as the Flores Agreement, a court settlement that limits the amount of time children can be held in immigration detention.

It will be done, he vowed.

"Because of the court's order, we are starting from the largest potential data set that we have". The process was being carried out "as expeditiously as possible", he said.

The US government has asked for more time to reunite migrant families separated at the US-Mexico border as it emerged that some children's parents have already been deported.

One of the biggest challenges: ensuring parents are properly verified. Because children can't be in jail with their parents, more than 2,300 families caught by Border Patrol were separated.

The immigrant families are now entered in federal computers as separate individuals, and federal employees are reviewing thousands of immigrant children's cases by hand.

Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin The lack of those identification numbers became a major issue after the children were placed in the custody of the Health and Human Services department and flown to shelters across the country. Advocates said the practice has traumatized families.

Federal officials have released updated statements revealing the total number of immigrant children in their care - a figure that includes children who crossed the border alone and children who were separated from their families after crossing.

Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer, questioned the need for DNA testing and suggested that it should be used exclusively for the goal of reunification and then should be expunged.

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"We want this to be as compassionate a process as it humanly can be", Mr Azar said.

Despite the limits, Homeland Security officials say if someone comes to a port of entry legally and claims asylum, then they won't face criminal prosecution for improper entry.

Advocates for immigrants have blasted the Trump administration, suggesting officials have created bureaucratic obstacles to delay the reunions.

In a series of tweets, Trump demanded lawmakers "pass smart, fast and reasonable Immigration Laws" now, after the House of Representatives last month rejected a broad immigration bill that had his support.

"Any confusion is due to a broken immigration system and court orders", Azar said. Its database has some information about the children's parents but wasn't created to reunify families under the court's deadline. "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 a child". "They need to give the child back".

Jennifer Falcon with the immigration advocacy group RAICES, tweeted that the decision is "further proof the administration has no idea how to reunite families", that were separated after illegally crossing the United States border under President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego, Calif., ordered the government to return children under the age of 5 to their parents by next Tuesday. He called it an 'unprecedented situation in connecting parents and children'.

As reported also by Julia Ainsley of NBC, Azar said "It's important to remember that information from children can at times be unreliable".

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