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Trump official: Separations are saving lives

CNN's Wolf Blitzer pushed back on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and asked why the Trump administration can't meet the federal court-ordered deadline to reunify all separated migrant families.

Posted: Jul 11, 2018 1:22 PM
Updated: Jul 11, 2018 1:40 PM

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department was performing "one of the great acts of American generosity and charity" in its care of immigrant children.

Repeatedly pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" about why HHS won't allow media cameras into facilities housing children, Azar said, "We have nothing to hide about how we operate these facilities."

"It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally," Azar added.

The Trump administration has faced international outcry since it implemented a "zero tolerance" immigration policy that resulted in thousands of undocumented families separated at the border, criticism that only intensified amid a snail's pace of reunifying those families.

Physicians' groups have criticized any practice of separating children from their parents as potentially causing lifelong damage.

In the interview, Azar praised the workers and facilities housing the children. The facilities mostly house children who came to the US by themselves, as well as children separated from parents at the border.

"These are groups of the most well-meaning, altruistic individuals," he said. "These kids are happy, they are loved, they are cared for, it is a compassionate environment."

Azar said HHS reunited fewer than half of the eligible separated migrant families in its care by a court-ordered deadline Tuesday because it is thoroughly reviewing each case to verify that parents are not dangerous and are actually the parents of the children in question.

"Our central mission is protecting child welfare while still reuniting families," he said.

Azar dodged multiple questions from Blitzer about why the reunifications were taking so long, given that many of the children may have been in custody for months.

As of late Tuesday evening, 38 of 102 children identified for the deadline had been reunified with their parents, according to administration officials. Another 27 were determined to be ineligible for reunifications yet, and the remainder were awaiting family verification, background checks or for parents who have already been deported to be found.

The children who are addressed under the Tuesday deadline are all under age 5 and have been held by the government for weeks or months after being separated from their parents.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 480845

Reported Deaths: 6511
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin997381576
Ramsey42744796
Dakota35818383
Anoka33010383
Washington21862253
Stearns18683200
St. Louis14655262
Scott13119107
Wright12414114
Olmsted1170088
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Carver756340
Clay683686
Rice664291
Blue Earth587235
Kandiyohi576674
Crow Wing514780
Chisago493644
Otter Tail479470
Benton441390
Winona414248
Mower400231
Douglas390768
Nobles385347
Goodhue383368
Polk341062
McLeod336349
Beltrami335350
Morrison321846
Lyon311543
Itasca308545
Becker307841
Isanti303453
Carlton298544
Steele297611
Pine280616
Freeborn276823
Nicollet252341
Todd244030
Brown240737
Le Sueur230520
Mille Lacs225747
Cass218124
Waseca206917
Meeker205534
Martin186728
Wabasha18543
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Faribault121716
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Sibley116410
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Swift87218
Pope7885
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Wilkin66510
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Lincoln5032
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Norman4648
Mahnomen4377
Unassigned43668
Kittson40721
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Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359747

Reported Deaths: 5357
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57625545
Linn20536311
Scott18203205
Black Hawk16187286
Woodbury14875211
Johnson1374173
Dubuque13480194
Dallas1123790
Pottawattamie10716140
Story1012945
Warren550271
Clinton540783
Cerro Gordo531080
Webster515686
Marshall493772
Sioux491568
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Des Moines455059
Muscatine446789
Wapello4261107
Jasper406865
Plymouth393377
Lee373551
Marion356969
Jones293854
Henry292535
Carroll284048
Bremer276554
Crawford272035
Boone258230
Washington253145
Benton250454
Mahaska223145
Jackson220438
Dickinson216338
Tama211564
Kossuth206954
Clay192925
Hamilton191641
Delaware188539
Winneshiek186926
Fayette184033
Buchanan183630
Page181619
Hardin179638
Wright179131
Harrison178969
Cedar175522
Clayton168153
Butler165731
Floyd162439
Mills162420
Cherokee153535
Madison153418
Poweshiek153429
Hancock146529
Lyon145441
Iowa143823
Allamakee143644
Appanoose138447
Grundy138230
Jefferson137532
Winnebago137530
Calhoun133010
Cass132448
Mitchell130040
Louisa127941
Union125931
Chickasaw124613
Sac123718
Emmet120740
Shelby119933
Franklin118319
Humboldt116725
Guthrie116028
Montgomery104036
Palo Alto103921
Howard102421
Clarke99220
Keokuk97529
Unassigned9300
Monroe92628
Adair91626
Ida90732
Pocahontas85419
Davis82223
Monona81525
Greene76610
Lucas73121
Osceola70014
Worth6907
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5729
Van Buren55818
Ringgold51416
Wayne48621
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Adams3244
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