The US government, under court order to quickly reunify parents and children who were separated after crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico, has expanded its use of DNA tests to establish paternity in immigration matters.
Sabraw gave the government until July 10 to reunite children under age 5 with their parents, and until July 26 to put all of the families back together.
"There's always going to be tension between a fast release and a safe release", Sarah Fabian, a Justice Department attorney, told the AP. Of the parents the government has identified so far, 46 remain in immigration detention centers.
He said that the reunification needed to occur within the next 14 days.
But the process is likely to take longer for the dozens of parents who are not in government custody.
Young immigrants and arrive with their parents at the Catholic Charities RGV after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. Fabian cautioned that those numbers were approximate and could be "in flux" over the coming days.
In a motion filed late Thursday, the Justice Department said it had devoted "immense" resources to reunifying parents and children since June 26, when the judge imposed deadlines on the government for returning children to their families.
"I am very encouraged about the progress", Sabraw said at the hearing.
Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an worldwide outcry and said families should remain together. The odds are particularly steep in cases where those parents have already been deported, as the government argued Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the administration to share a list of the 101 children with the American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully sued to force the reunions, by Saturday afternoon.
The US government did not request a specific new set of deadlines.
In the court filing, the Justice Department sought clarification on whether they have to reunite migrant kids with parents who were already deported and appeared to argue that would be too hard and time consuming. "The children, some as young as 2 months old, can not possibly give permission for this", she added. He and his two older siblings are now in NY, according to court filings.
LabCorp, one of the largest providers of DNA testing to prove parentage, said it is not involved in the current testing of immigrant parents and children. The agency is now reviewing the cases of all 11,800 children in its custody to determine whether they were separated from caregivers. As for the rest, she claimed, three were brought by someone who is not their biological parent, three have parents with serious criminal records that bar reunification, five have parents with something on their record that requires further investigation, 12 have parents either in local or federal criminal detention who must serve time before being transferred to ICE, 18 have parents who were lost by the administration after their deportation or release into the US, and four have been approved for release to a non-parent sponsor. The agency also has about 100 "reunification case managers" and 40 additional staff members working to reunite kids, according to court filings.
Sabraw declined on Friday to grant the government an extension but indicated he might be willing to do so if officials provided the court and the ACLU with a detailed list of the children and status of their reunification.
Sabraw, the federal judge in California, had ordered that federal officials provide detained immigrant parents with a way to contact their kids by Friday.