- Joe Raedle/Getty
- The Trump administration will not be reuniting migrant children with their parents being held in detention facilities.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said reuniting families will only happen when parents gain asylum or drop their claims for asylum, leading to deportation.
- The department still has 2,047 children separated from their families at the US-Mexico border in its custody.
The Trump administration will not be reuniting migrant children with parents who are being held in detention facilities, a cabinet secretary has said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the administration will only reunite separated children with parents who are granted asylum or agree to drop their claims for asylum. Those who drop their claims will subsequently be deported.
“If the parent remains in detention, unfortunately, under rules that are set by Congress and the courts, they can’t be reunified while they’re in detention,” Azar said, citing current rules which do not allow children to be held in immigrant detention for longer than 20 days.
Another issue is that parents who continue with their asylum claims will be held in custody until their hearings are complete, a process which can take months or in some cases years. Azar added that the department could place children with relatives in the United States if these family members can be properly vetted.
HHS still has 2,047 separated children in their custody, Azar said.
Trump issued an executive order last week which halted family separations under the “zero tolerance” policy. But chaos has ensued as lawyers and advocates try to reunite families with some parents deported back to their home countries without their children.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday the government has reunited 522 migrant children who were recently separated from their parents.