The judge orders that migrant families separated at the border meet in 30 days



A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop separating migrant families and reunite all children with their parents within 30 days, ruling that "the situation has reached a crisis level."

US District Judge Dana Sabraw arrived late Tuesday in a clbad action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of separated parents of children after crossing the border and detained in immigration custody.

The order requires the federal government to gather all children within 30 days and children under 5 within two weeks. Judge Sabraw said that for now, parents can no longer be detained or deported without their children unless it is discovered that the children are in danger or the parents have given their consent.

"There is no genuine dispute that the government is not prepared for the mbadive influx of separated children," the judge wrote.

The ruling comes after weeks of growing furor from both political parties over the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration that led to the recent arrest of more than 2,300 children. The policy was implemented in response to a wave of Central American immigrants who crossed the border in recent months and are expected to seek asylum in the United States after fleeing unrest in their home countries.

President

Donald Trump

On June 20, he issued an executive order committed to stop the separation of migrant families after his arrest, but confusion on the border has continued.

On Tuesday, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services said 2,047 children who had been separated from their families were in the custody of the agency and that efforts continued to bring them back to their families.

The Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comments on Tuesday.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the ACLU, said late on Tuesday that the "failure is a huge victory for parents and children who thought they would never see each other again."

In a telephone hearing before Judge Sabraw, Mr. Gelernt urged the judge to act quickly, calling the separated families "a humanitarian crisis of extreme proportions."

A Justice Department attorney said in the Friday's hearing that the government did not have a formal procedure to reunite families once the parents were released from immigration custody. The lawyer, Sarah Fabian, told the court that the Refugee Resettlement Office, which is responsible for housing most of the children, sometimes does not know when a father has been released.

The Department of Justice subsequently argued in a document filed Tuesday that President Trump's executive order had addressed the concerns raised in the ACLU lawsuit, and that federal agencies should have time to reunite families.

Since Mr. Trump's directive last week, more than 500 children have already met with adults, federal officials said. But the process has been chaotic and confusing at times, as several federal agencies have tried to coordinate efforts, while government officials, immigration lawyers and refugee agencies have tried to determine which children are in their custody and where their parents are located. . [19659004] "Placing the burden on the parents to find and request reunification with their children under the circumstances presented here is the other way around," the judge said in his ruling.

One of the plaintiffs named in the case is a Brazilian mother who was detained at the border with her 14-year-old son. After serving a 25-day sentence, "Ms. C." then spent five months in ICE detention in Texas, while her son was detained in Chicago at a facility of the Refugee Resettlement Office. The mother met with her son in June, weeks after being released from ICE, according to the plaintiffs.

Judge Sabraw certified the case as a clbad action, determining that the lawsuit could be filed on behalf of all parents who are or will be detained in immigration custody and separated from their children. By granting the preliminary injunction, he said the plaintiffs would probably succeed in the merits of their case.

The judge said he did not seek to interfere with the government's authority to enforce immigration and criminal laws. He ordered the agencies responsible for detaining clbad members, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Refugee Relocation Office, to improve communication between them. He also ordered the government to take measures to quickly allow separated parents of their children to communicate with them.

"We are a country of laws and compbadion," he wrote.

The ruling comes hours after a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Trump administration violated the constitutional rights of thousands of children and their parents when they were separated at the border. The White House did not immediately comment on that demand.

Write to Sara Randazzo at [email protected]

She appeared in the print edition of June 27, 2018 as & # 39; Judge says families should meet & # 39; ;

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