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Juliette Kayyem Says Family Reunification Is Taking Too Long

Juliette Kayyem: Families At The Border Could Have Been Reunited Within 72 Hours

Immigrant mother
A mother migrating from Honduras holds her one-year-old child while surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents on June 25 near McAllen, Texas.
David J. Phillip/AP
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Juliette Kayyem Says Family Reunification Is Taking Too Long

After President Trump’s executive order ended his policy of separating children from parents at the border, many Americans are wondering about next steps for reuniting those that have been separated.

National security expert Juliette Kayyem joined Boston Public Radio to talk about the process of family reunification.

“A committed government ... could have been done with this within 72 hours,” she said. “This is not hard.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday more than 500 children have been reunited with their families, but Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Tuesday his agency is caring for 2,047 children. This number is only six children different from the 2,053 Azar's agency said were in their custody on the day Trump announced his executive order.

Kayyem said the administration’s inaction can be traced to a combination of "incompetence" and a lack of commitment.

"We’re a thriving country with infrastructure,” she said. “We have phones. We have computers. We have photographs. We have DNA testing. ... We have the capacity to take a picture of each child and parents.”

When asked more about the administration's inaction on the reunification process, Kayyem said officials are still “using the kids as hostages to get commitments from the parents that they will either go back to their country or not seek asylum.”

“They are trying to still use this immoral, objectionable tactic as a deterrent,” said Kayyem.

National security expert Juliette Kayyem is on the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School. She’s also a CNN analyst and chief executive officer of ZEMCAR.

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