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DOJ asks for more time to reunite migrate children separated from their families

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice on Friday asked a federal judge for more time to reunite families separated at the U.S-Mexico border as a result of the Trump administration's former "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Lawyers for the agency argue that meeting an upcoming July 10 court-mandated deadline to reunite children under age 5 and a subsequent deadline to reunite the nearly 3,000 remaining children later this month would be difficult.

One of the biggest challenges: ensuring that parents are properly verified.

The lawyers informed the court that they may not be able to comply with the court-ordered timeline for reunification because a family is no longer in government custody, due to parole or release, which takes longer to vet the parent to ensure parentage and child safety.

In Friday's legal request, the DOJ requests more time and clarification on if their process for confirming parentage is consistent with the court's mandate, and "seeks clarification that in cases where parentage cannot be confirmed quickly, HHS will not be in violation of the Court’s order if reunification occurs outside of the timelines provided by the Court."

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that they will be in compliance with the court-ordered deadline of July 10 for those under age 5, even if it means “HHS also had to narrow its traditional focus from the review of care” to a “more expeditious process” of vetting than the agency typically undertakes.

On Friday, lawyers acknowledged that "although HHS is moving expeditiously to undertake these DNA tests, that process takes meaningful time, even when it is expedited -- as this Court has implicitly recognized," the court documents said.

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