Thirty-four migrant children under the age of five separated from their parents at the southern US border are being reunited with their families, the Arizona Republic reports. Officials are using a combination of DNA testing and other approaches to determine relatedness, it adds.
As part of a "zero tolerance" policy, more than 2,000 migrant children were separated from their families at the border. A federal court ordered that the children be reunited with their families. It gave a deadline of July 10 for children under the age of five and July 26 for all others.
The Department of Health and Human Services says 34 parents have cleared both a criminal background check and have had their parentage verified through a DNA test and would be reunited with their children. It adds that three individuals said they were not the biological parents of the child with whom they sought reunification and three others were found not to be biological parents through DNA testing.
Chris Meekins, an HHS official, says this could mean individuals claiming to be parents could be human traffickers, according to the Arizona Republic. Meekins adds that the agency is doing its "due diligence."
The Daily Beast reports that four women were told that they would have to pay for the cost of DNA testing. "The government wants the parents to foot the bill for the DNA testing when they're the ones that caused the need for DNA testing," Iliana Holguin, an immigration attorney who works with Annunciation House shelter where the women are staying, tells the Daily Beast. "It's incredible."
The Office of Refugee Resettlement tells the Daily Beast it is conducting DNA testing to verify parentage at no cost.