Faced with a court-imposed deadline to reunite families separated at the southwest border, federal authorities are calling in volunteers to sort through records and resorting to DNA tests to match children with parents. And they acknowledged for the first time Thursday that of the nearly 3,000 children who are still in federal custody, about 100 are under the age of 5.
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.
The effort is complicated by the fact that two federal agencies are involved in detaining and sheltering migrants, and they did not initially share records with each other. On Friday, the leadership of the Department of Health and Human Services, which shelters the children and must now undertake reunifications, sent out a plea to federal public health workers for help with an exhaustive manual search of records. [Continue reading…]