United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Thursday that officials are working to meet deadlines, imposed by a federal judge, to reunite migrant children and parents separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post reports.
Though Azar did not did not say exactly how many children are awaiting reunification with their parents, he estimated that the total number of these children, who were separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, is under 3,000.
Azar's statement follows last week's ruling by a U.S. district judge in California, which ordered the Trump administration to reunite the families in question by July 26th, a deadline that Azar on Thursday called "extreme."
Last week's ruling also provided a more urgent deadline—next Tuesday, July 10th—for the roughly 100 children under the age of five who have been separated from their parents.
Jonathan White, deputy director for children's programs at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said that, rather than reuniting families using documentation, as is normally the case, HHS will "use the faster process of DNA verification to confirm that biological relationship," the Hill reports.