(From AP News)
Stung by a public outcry, the Trump administration said Thursday it will meet court-ordered deadlines for reuniting families separated at the border, even as the politics of immigration remained at a boil.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that his department is ready to reunite children in its care with their parents, starting next Tuesday with those under age 5. HHS said it’s using DNA testing as a backup to confirm the parent-child link and speed up the process.
However, Azar warned that entire families may remain in the custody of immigration authorities for extended periods, even those who are claiming asylum. Before the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, migrants seeking asylum under U.S. laws were often granted temporary release as their cases were resolved.
Azar also used a new and much higher number for migrant kids separated from their parents, “under 3,000” as compared with the figure of 2,047 he provided at a Senate hearing last week. Of those, about 100 are under five years old.
He said the new number reflected a more thorough look by HHS at its case files, and over a longer time period, to comply with the court order that families be reunited. That order had been issued after his Senate testimony.