U.S. tells court migrant families may not be reunited by deadline

Unaccompanied minors are seen at a facility in Bristow Virginia on June 21. 

Handout. Reuters Unaccompanied minors are seen at a facility in Bristow Virginia on June 21

The latest information we have was provided to CNN by a U.S. 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.

About 40 parents of children in the under-5 age group are in Homeland Security custody and another nine are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, the government said in court papers.

A federal judge orders the Trump administration to release the names of children, five years old and younger, who were separated from their parents at the border.

One of the biggest challenges: ensuring parents are properly verified.

It's identified 101 children under age 5 who were separated, and more than 2,000 others ages 5 to 17 who might qualify as separated.

The organization said they'd never heard of DNA testing being done to reunite families before and they don't support the move.

The government's request, hours before a scheduled hearing on the issue Friday, marks an abrupt departure from comments made earlier Thursday from President Trump's secretary for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, whose agency cares for the children in shelters. Advocates said the practice has traumatized families.

But the process has been complicated because the judge's ruling applied not only to children taken from their parents under the "zero-tolerance" border policy, but those separated for other reasons, several officials said. USA authorities confirmed through DNA testing on March 12 that the woman was the girl's mother and the two were reunited.

'Proper vetting for child safety is essential, ' he said.

"We want this to be as compassionate a process as it humanly can be", Mr Azar said. "We are operating under a court order that forbids the DHS from holding family units together for longer than 20 days".

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".

'We will comply with the artificial deadlines created by the court and the deadlines that were not formed by the process needed to vet parents, ' he said.

Azar also warned illegal immigrants that the onus was on them to stay with their children.

The Trump administration has been facing continued scrutiny and questions over what will happen to the undocumented families who were separated as a result of the administration's widely criticized "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Sixteen children had not been matched, and it remained unclear if they crossed with their parents, she said.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District of California, Julia Ainsley of NBC News reported, "said he would agree to delay the [July 10] deadline for reunifying the youngest children if the government could provide a master list of all children and the status of their parents by 10 a.m". The court order, Azar said, "goes back indefinitely".

The motion includes hundreds of pages of sworn declarations from migrant parents and their advocates detailing alleged experiences that mothers, fathers and children have endured while trying to seek asylum in the United States.

The administration has matched 86 parents to 83 children and 16 are not yet matched, Justice attorney Sarah Fabian said, according to the wire service's report.

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