HHS now estimates under 3,000 kids separated from parents in government custody

HHS now estimates under 3,000 kids separated from parents in government custody

HHS now estimates under 3,000 kids separated from parents in government custody

President Donald Trump reversed course last month and signed an executive order meant to keep families together, but the administration is still facing scrutiny and questions over the families separated as a result of its widely-criticized "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

Azar also revised upward the number of migrant children being held to "under 3,000", a week after saying the number was closer to 2,000.

"It sounds easy", Azar said, but noted that his department has 11,800 children in their care and has records on each one.

Azar said fewer than 3,000 total were separated, and fewer than 100 under the age of five.

CNN has previously reported that it's not clear how many migrant families have been reunited since a judge ordered the United States government to halt most family separations at the border. He also ordered the government to make sure all parents had a way to contact their children by July 6. This costly process, devised to protect children from being placed in the hands of potential human traffickers, takes no less than a week, lawyers said.

Another issue for the Trump administration is that Sabraw's ruling also applies to families split up before its "zero tolerance" policy was implemented in May.

Once HHS reunifies the families, they will be in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, Azar said.

A court order has bound the agency to reunite children who are aged four or less by July 10.

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Under the approach, parents and other caregivers apprehended after crossing the border were arrested and jailed, and the government placed their children with HHS. But after separating thousands of children absent that finding, the government is now making the opposite argument - that they must clear a high bar, that it claims the court set in its order, by proving the parents are not risky or unfit before reunification can happen.

Although Azar suggested on Thursday that speedy reunification could risk releasing children to parents who are criminals or risky, the court filing states that the government does not now anticipate any delay based on the need to run background checks by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But he signaled they'd ask a judge for more time. Still, Azar insisted his agency would comply with the court's order.

Health and Human Services deployed more than 200 workers to review the cases of separated children.

The president said he took the drastic measure to secure the border.

President Donald Trump is demanding that Congress "FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!"

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. They say that the migrants were told to come back and that it was not an effort to push them into illegally crossing between borders, where they would be more likely to be detained and face criminal prosecution. "Country being forced to endure a long and costly trial", he wrote.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who oversees immigration courts, has narrowed the parameters for those seeking asylum, arguing that domestic violence or gang violence is not grounds to grant it - a blow to people arriving from Central American countries like El Salvador that have been ravaged by violent street gangs.

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