The Justice Department asked a federal judge Friday to extend a court-mandated deadline for reuniting as many as 3,000 children taken from their parents due to Donald Trump’s family separation policy.
The Department of Human and Health Services is using DNA testing to confirm the parent-child relationships of the nearly 3,000 children in custody. Since inconclusive DNA tests can delay the procedure, the Justice Department argues that it will need more time.
DNA testing might seem extreme, but it makes a little more sense when you read this passage from a New York Times article on Thursday:
The family separations, part of an aggressive effort by the Trump administration to deter illegal immigration, have produced a chaotic scramble as officials now face political and judicial pressure to reunite families.
Records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, according to two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.
Yep, it’s a shitshow.
HHS did have a system in place initially, such as using identification bracelets, careful logs, and issuing registration numbers, the Times wrote. Unfortunately, Customs and Border Protection did not follow these precautions. In hundreds of cases, CBP, which has initial custody of migrants, deleted records of “family identification numbers” that show which parents and children belonged together. The records that remain are chaotically scattered between HHS and the Department of Homeland Security, according to NBC News.
The government also argued on Friday that since it’s difficult to reunite children with parents who have already been deported, the court should either extend the deadline or exclude these families from those who must be reunified.
Despite the evident screw-up on his part, HHS Secretary Alex Axar continues to put the blame on others.
“Any confusion is due to a broken immigration system and court orders,” Azar said Thursday. “It’s not here.”
The court deadline to reunite all children under 5 is still next Tuesday. All others must be brought back to their parents by July 26.
Update, 5:11 p.m.: Are you kidding me???