California, US.- The Trump administration asked a judge Friday for more time to reunite families who were separated at the border under its “zero-tolerance” policy to prosecute every person who enters the country illegally.
Hours before a hearing in San Diego, the Justice Department filed papers seeking an extension of the deadline, which is July 10 for all parents with children under 5 and July 26 to reunite everyone else.
The administration says federal law requires it to ensure that children are safe and that requires more time. Administration officials also say that they won’t be able to confirm a child’s parentage by the deadline if DNA testing is inconclusive. They will need more time to collect DNA samples or other evidence from parents who have been released from government custody.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, set the deadline last week, writing that the “situation has reached a crisis level” and that the “chaotic circumstances” were of the government’s own making. He scheduled Friday’s hearing for an update on compliance with his order.
More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May that the zero tolerance was in full effect, even if it meant splitting families.