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US using DNA tests to reunite children with migrant parents

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US officials have resorted to DNA testing on up to 3,000 detained children who remain separated from their migrant parents, a top official said Thursday as President Donald Trump’s administration struggles to rapidly reunite families at the center of a border crisis.

The controversial, newly announced procedures are part of government efforts to meet rapidly approaching court-imposed deadlines for reuniting children with their parents, and come as the president himself once again demanded swift action by Congress to fix the country’s “insane” immigration laws.

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The Department of Health and Human Services is “doing DNA testing to confirm parentage quickly and accurately,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar told reporters on a conference call, as his team said the procedure was being conducted through “harmless” cheek swabs.

Normally used as a last-resort means of identification — if birth certificates or other documents are unavailable — DNA testing is being used to speed the process to meet a judge’s order to reunite families by June 26, and by next Tuesday for some 100 children under age five.

But Azar portrayed the process as orderly and disputed accusations that the Trump administration has failed to account for some minors.

“HHS knows the identity and location of every minor in the care of our grantees,” he said, adding that authorities were working to reunite children with their parents “as expeditiously as possible.”

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About 11,800 minors are currently in US custody after crossing over from Mexico, Azar said. Eighty percent of those are teenagers, mostly males who entered the United States on their own.

Azar refused to provide an exact figure for the total number of detained children who have been split from their parents, only saying that number is “under 3,000” minors and that they are in “excellent” care, with three meals plus snacks each day and time for exercise and entertainment.

The administration had previously said that just over 2,000 separated minors remained in its care.

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AFP / NICHOLAS KAMMUS President Donald Trump has spoken out repeatedly against lengthy judicial processes to determine migrants’ eligibility for immigration, asylum or deportation, arguing they are a waste of US resources

Azar said reunited families would remain in custody of the Department of Homeland Security as their cases are adjudicated.

The DNA test results are being solely used to accurately connect parents with children, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Jonathan White said on the call.

“This isn’t some vast sprawling data set that we’re matching up,” he said.

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But critics warn that very young children cannot give permission for such tests, which they say could ultimately be used for further monitoring, and that the policy shows the government never registered people properly when they were first detained.

“It’s deplorable they are using the guise of reuniting children to collect even more sensitive data about very young children,” said Jennifer Falcon of RAICES, a Texas-based group that is representing migrant families.

“This would allow the government to conduct surveillance on these children for the rest of their lives.”

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– ‘INSANE’ immigration laws –

Meanwhile Trump on Thursday uttered his latest contradictory outburst over the chaotic border crisis.

In a series of tweets, Trump demanded lawmakers “pass smart, fast and reasonable Immigration Laws” now, after the House of Representatives last month rejected a broad immigration bill that had his support.

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AFP/File / Don EMMERTYeni Gonzalez, of Guatemala, was reunited with her three children on July 3, 2018 in Harlem, six weeks after being separated at the border

“When people, with or without children, enter our Country, they must be told to leave without our… Country being forced to endure a long and costly trial,” he wrote.

Trump has spoken out repeatedly against lengthy judicial processes to determine migrants’ eligibility for immigration, asylum or deportation, arguing they are a waste of US resources.

“Congress – FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!” he tweeted.

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It was the latest conflicting message by Trump to Congress.

Before the June 27 House vote, he said Republicans — who control both chambers — “should stop wasting their time on immigration” until after the midterm elections in November.

Days later he traveled to Capitol Hill to urge Republicans to back the pending bill.

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After it failed, Trump insisted he had “never pushed the Republicans to vote for the Immigration bill” because it would not have received enough Democratic support to clear the Senate.

Trump has made fighting immigration — both illegal and legal — a central plank of his fiercely US-centered policy agenda, resulting in the “zero tolerance” immigration approach under which undocumented border crossers were being systematically prosecuted, and their children separated from them.

Faced with a barrage of criticism, Trump signed an executive order to halt the family separations, but made no specific provisions for those already split apart.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Harvard psychiatrist exposes why ‘extremely successful sociopath’ Trump seeks Putin’s love and approval

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Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy" on Sunday morning, retired Harvard clinical psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes diagnosed Donald Trump as having a "fundamental psychological problem" that has led him to seek approval from autocratic leaders like Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Speaking with host Joy Reid, Dodes got right to the point while admitting that he has not sat down and questioned the the president.

"Donald Trump does have a fundamental psychological problem," he bluntly stated. "He needs to be loved all the time, he needs to have power over everyone all the time. Once you get that idea down, the rest of his behavior and his speech makes sense."

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No cushion for the Trump recession: Why this one could be worse than 2008

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As the corporate media bangs the drum of imminent recession, we need to take a look at how tens of millions of American households that live paycheck to paycheck are situated for another choreographed downturn.

This article first appeared in Salon.

It will tell you all you need to know about the predatory nature of late-stage vulture capitalism, over which Donald Trump presides as its orange mascot. What jumps out when you look at the data is just how phony the “longest recovery” has been — the one for which Joe Biden wants to take a victory lap.

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‘That’s total nonsense’: Bill Kristol punches Santorum right between the eyes on Trump’s failing trade policy

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CNN contributor Rick Santorum said he was personally offended on Sunday after conservative writer Bill Kristol attacked President Donald Trump's trade policy.

During a segment about Trump's trade war with China, Kristol noted that the president seems "demoralized" and "depressed."

"His economists have told him privately we're slowing down and we're at some risk of toppling into a recession," Kristol explained. "His political people have told him his numbers are going down not up."

The conservative writer pointed to Trump's racist attacks on black lawmakers as one mistake he has made.

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