This isn't a flawless equation; we don't know whether the children released from HHS custody were reunited with parents - only that they're no longer in one of the agency's shelters.
Judge Dana Sabraw had issued an injunction on June 26 requiring the government to reunite detained migrant children under the age of five within 14 days and those over that age within 30 days.
"We have a vital and historic mission here to protect these children", he said.
U.S. officials have ordered DNA tests on "under 3,000" detained children who remain separated from their migrant parents, in an effort to reunite families at the centre of a border crisis, a senior official has said. He called it an "unprecedented situation in connecting parents and children".
The administration had previously said that just over 2,000 separated minors remained in its care.
Five days before the first US government-imposed deadline to reunite migrant parents and children who were separated after crossing the Southwest border, immigration officials are mounting a round-the-clock effort involving hundreds of federal workers to bring the families together, a senior Trump administration official said Thursday.
Health and Human Services must determine that a "parent is not 'unfit or presents a danger to the child, '" which means the agency must also have "an independent finding that the individual has not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child", before reunification.
The administration says federal law requires it to ensure that children are safe - and that, it contended, calls for more time.
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"Any confusion is due to a broken immigration system and court orders", Azar said. The goal is to weed out bogus claims by people who aren't related to the children but are trying to get a hold of them anyway.
Azar said that verification process in some cases involves DNA testing.
DNA testing is being conducted as part of the process to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the border, a federal official with knowledge of the reunifications told CNN. "We have not sent children into ICE custody yet, pursuant to the court's order, but we will do so as we approach the court's deadline".
Falcon, communications director for RAICES, a nonprofit in Texas that offers free and low-priced legal services to immigrants and refugees, called the move deplorable because collecting such sensitive data would allow the government to conduct surveillance on the children "for the rest of their lives".
By July 6, officials must make sure every separated parent has a way to contact their child.
In court documents filed late Thursday, the administration says it is working "diligently" and dedicating "immense resources and effort" to comply with a court order to reunify the families.
Of the 101 children under 5, about half are in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He added that he believed the complexity of the reunifications was caused by the federal judge's "extreme" deadlines and the USA immigration system itself - not the Trump administration.