June 27 (UPI) — A California federal judge on Tuesday ordered undocumented immigrant children separated from their family at the U.S.-Mexico border be reunited within 30 days — and children under 5 within 14 days.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw preliminary injunction was issued in response the American Civil Liberties Union’s court request for an end to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all cases of undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border, which has resulted in some children being detained separately from their parents as their cases get processed. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 2,000 children are currently being held in immigration detention centers separately from their parents.
In his opinion, Sabraw sharply criticized the Trump administration’s border policy.
“The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making,” Sabraw wrote. “They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution. This is particularly so in the treatment of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers and small children.”
Sabraw also said it was a “startling reality” that the zero tolerance policy was implemented “without any effective system or procedure for tracking the children after they were separated from their parents, enabling communication between the parents and their children after separation and reuniting the parents and children after the parents are returned to immigration custody following completion of their criminal sentence.”
Sabraw said the government has a system in place to keep track of personal property of people detained during criminal and immigration proceedings
“Yet, the government has no system in place to keep track of, provide effective communication with, and promptly produce alien children,” he said.
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said the ruling was a victory for undocumented immigrant children and their parents who have been detained in recent months.
“Many of these parents and children thought they might never see each other again. They have literally been living through a nightmare and the court has now ended their trauma,” he said.
A government motion complained that Sabraw should give them more time, rather than issuing an order demanding reunification within 30 days.
“A court imposed process is likely to slow the reunification process and cause confusion and conflicting obligations, rather than speed the process of reunifying families in a safe and efficient manner,” U.S. attorneys wrote.