US Judge Criticizes Plan to Reunify Families Split at Border

(From AP News)

The Justice Department on Friday filed a plan to reunify more than 2,500 children age 5 and older by a court-imposed deadline of July 26 using “truncated” procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks, which exclude DNA testing and other steps it took to reunify children under 5.

The administration said the abbreviated vetting puts children at significant safety risk but is needed to meet the deadline.

Chris Meekins, deputy assistant Health and Human Services secretary for preparedness and response, filed a declaration that he is fully committed to meeting the deadline. However, he does not believe “the placing of children into such situations is consistent with the mission of HHS or my core values.”

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw [Southern District of California] took umbrage at Meekins’ statement, disputing the official’s interpretation of his orders and saying that safe reunification could and will occur by July 26.

“It is clear from Mr. Meekins’s declaration that HHS either does not understand the court’s orders or is acting in defiance of them,” the judge wrote late Friday. “At a minimum, it appears he is attempting to provide cover to defendants for their own conduct in the practice of family separation, and the lack of foresight and infrastructure necessary to remedy the harms caused by that practice.”

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