Vince Reinhart, Wikimedia commons

The Trump administration has until July 10 to comply with a federal judge's order to reunite parents with children under the age of five, and until July 26 to return all the other kids it's ripped away from their families. In a press call Thursday, HHS secretary Alex Azar, whose department's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is responsible for migrant children in government custody, admitted that the government still doesn't know exactly how many children were taken from their parents, but hooray, we at least learned that it's definitely for sure under 3000 currently in custody -- almost a thousand more than earlier estimates -- and of that number, about 100 are aged five or younger. And here's a big surprise -- where Azar had insisted in June that he could locate any child in ORR within minutes, he now admits that reuniting all the kids with their parents is going to be really hard, because who knew it would be a good idea to keep track of both the kids AND their parents? He also seems to resent that some busybody judge is just telling him to fix this faster than the administration never wanted to.


Meeting the deadlines will be a huge job because Homeland Security, which did such a great job of taking the children away, and HHS, which now has them, hadn't shared information from the start of Trump's family separations, many of which occurred even before the "zero tolerance" policy was announced in late April. ("Ms. L," for instance, legally applying for asylum after fleeing Democratic Republic of Congo, had her 7-year-old daughter torn from her last November. And in March, when we wrote about it, the ACLU was still trying to get them reunited.)

In the press call, Azar said his agency was doing the best it could to meet the "artificial deadlines created by the courts," and fretted that if he's forced to rush, some families may not get the thorough vetting they need before kids are returned to them.

Politico reported earlier this week that ORR employees complained that they had received little guidance on how to proceed with reunification, but Azar said Thursday that the whole mess was all Congress's fault for not fixing the immigration system the way Donald Trump wants, and also shame on parents for trying to claim asylum for both them and their kids:

"I want no children in our custody," Azar said. "We would rather them be with family members in our country or back home" [...]

"Any confusion is due to a broken immigration system and court orders," Azar told reporters. "It's not here."

Somehow, Azar managed not to blame Barack Obama for what Donald Trump set in motion, but you have to know he was thinking it. He also had this sharp observation about the difficulties his agency faces in figuring out where young children should be sent, because

It is important to remember that information from children can sometimes be unreliable.

Dumb kids really should have kept better notes on their parents's identity and contact information before they were taken away for that bath they never returned from.

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[NYT / Politico / Politico / Vox / Adam Klasfeld on Twitter / Image by Vince Reinhart, Wikimedia Commons]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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