Today is the court-ordered deadline for the government to stop breaking up migrant families and to ensure that separated parents are able to contact their children. According to CNN, the Justice Department has told a federal judge that the administration has met those requirements, but may request an extension this afternoon of two other deadlines. The government has until July 10 to reunite children under 5 with their parents, and July 26 to reunite children over 5.
Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, says that about 3,000 children—100 of which are under the age of 5—are still in federal custody. To speed up the reunification process, the department has begun using DNA testing and recruiting volunteers to review case records. “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 New York Times reported.
The stories of some reunited families have become national news. Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia and her eight-year-old daughter hugged at Boston’s Logan Airport on Thursday, 55 days since being separated at a detention center in Arizona. “Forgive me for leaving you all alone,” said Gonzalez-Garcia, crying. “Forgive me, my daughter. Forgive me.” Many families, however, remain separated. The six-year-old girl heard wailing on a famous audiotape released by ProPublica last month is still 1,000 miles away from her mother, who speaks to her daughter in twice-weekly phone calls.