Judge Orders Trump Administration To Reunite Migrant Families

U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Public Domain

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw blasted what he called "a chaotic circumstance of the Government's own making."

A federal judge issued a strong rebuke and unfavorable ruling regarding the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, ordering the reunification of children under 5 years within 14 days and older children within 30 days.

POLITICO reported that U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego, issued the injunction late Tuesday night and slammed the Trump administration for what he called “a chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making.”

Further, Sabraw said, it was a “startling reality” that the federal government failed to adequately plan for reunification before deciding to implement a policy that would see families separated.

“The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings,” Sabraw wrote in his 24-page order. “Money, important documents, and automobiles, to name a few, are routinely catalogued, stored, tracked and produced upon a detainee’s release, at all levels — state and federal, citizen and alien. Yet, the government has no system in place to keep track of, provide effective communication with, and promptly produce alien children. The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process.”

The Trump administration requested the judge withhold ruling until President Donald Trump’s recent executive order requiring families be detained together could be implemented, but Sabraw declined.

The preliminary injunction also blocks deporting parents who have been separated from their children “unless the Class Member affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily declines to be reunited with the child prior to the Class Member’s deportation, or there is a determination that the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child.” The judge also prohibited future family separations, with limited exceptions.

Sabraw also blasted the administration’s practice of handing out toll-free numbers for immigrants to call in hopes of finding their children, saying the government has an affirmative duty to reunite parents with their children.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during an unrelated congressional hearing on Tuesday that parents held in immigration detention centers could not be reunited with their children unless they dropped any asylum claims and agreed to be deported, or unless federal law was changed.

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