The Justice Department has informed a federal judge in San Diego that the administration is in compliance with stopping family separations, except under prescribed conditions (such as the safety of the child), as well as ensuring communication with separated parents and children by today.
There's a hearing in San Diego this afternoon, and the DOJ said the government may ask for extended deadlines. Officials laid out certain challenges in meeting the reunification deadlines of July 10 for children under age 5 and July 26 for children over 5.
In the court filing, the government says in order to confirm parentage, the department of Health and Human Services is using DNA testing which can take time, and asks if the court will permit reunifications outside of the ordered timelines “in cases where parentage cannot be confirmed quickly.” The government says it is willing to propose an alternative timeline.
Additionally, HHS must determine that a “parent is not ‘unfit or presents a danger to the child,’’ which means HHS must also have “an independent finding that the individual has not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child,” before reunification. This process can be slowed down if the court order is interpreted to mean ICE must release parents from detention by compliance deadlines, and says “such release might slow reunification.”
Learn more about the DNA testing in the video below:
Today is the first of three major deadlines for US officials working to reunited families that were separated at the border under President Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy.
- By July 6, officials must make sure every separated parent has a way to contact their child, US District Judge Dana Sabraw said in a June ruling.
- Then, by July 10, officials must reunify all parents with their children under the age of 5.
- They must reunify parents with children 5 and older by July 26.
So how is all of this working?
For many parents of separated families, one phone call is not enough, and a second one seems like a distant hope. Making contact does not necessarily bring clarity to a family's situation, lawyers say. Sometimes, it can add to the confusion and deepen a parent's despair.
Six lawyers working with dozens of detained parents have told CNN their clients had at least one phone call with their children. Most times, those phone calls last less than five minutes, said human rights lawyer Sara E. Dill, who is working with detained parents at Port Isabel Service Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas.