President Trump's Justice Department has requested more time to reunite immigrant parents with the children taken from them by ICE at the border. Following a federal judge's order that all children under age 5 be reunited with their parents by July 10—and all others by July 25—lawyers for the government on Friday petitioned for an extension of those deadlines, NBC News reports. US District Judge Dana Sabraw set the deadline last week in a ruling that said the situation has reaching "crisis level." Per the AP, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that 3,000 children are believed to have been separated, but that includes kids who may have lost parents along the journey, not just parents who were detained at the border.
Azar said DNA testing is being used to determine parent-child relationships but that inconclusive tests can hold up the process. In the Justice Department filing, the government said it has identified 101 children under 5 years old who were separated and is the midst of identifying older children. About 40 parents of children in the under 5 age group are in Homeland Security custody and another nine are in the custody of the US Marshals Service. "The Government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunifications or burden class members," the Justice Department filing reads. "At the same time, however, the Government has a strong interest in ensuring that any release of a child from Government custody occurs in a manner that ensures the safety of that child." (Read more immigration stories.)