Donald Trump checks out prototypes for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall during a March visit to San Diego, Calif. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)
WASHINGTON – In the latest blow to the Trump administration’s family-separation policy, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that the administration must meet court-imposed deadlines for reuniting families or face sanctions.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ruled in San Diego that the government must reunite by day’s end all children under 5 forcibly separated from their undocumented immigrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. And all of the more than 2,500 children still separated from their undocumented immigrant parents must be reunited by July 26.
“These are firm deadlines,” Sabrow said. “They’re not aspirational goals.”
Sabraw also said DNA tests, which the administration said last week it would rely on to match children forcibly separated from parents who crossed the border illegally, could be used only when “genuine” reasons exist to doubt the parental relationship or if it cannot be established by any other means.
When DNA testing is used, Sabrow ruled at a status conference, samples must be destroyed immediately after matches are established and must not be added to a government database.
Sabraw granted the ACLU a preliminary injunction June 26 requiring reunification of children under 5 within 14 days, and all children within 30 days, in the ACLU’s class-action suit challenging the border-separation policy.
The administration provided a list of 102 separated children under 5 but said at a court hearing Monday that just over 50 of them would be reunited by Tuesday’s deadline.
Asked about the blown deadline earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump told reporters he had a “solution,” as he put it: “Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.”
The ACLU applauded Sabrow’s Tuesday decision.
“The court could not have been clearer that business, as usual, is not acceptable,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in a statement. “The Trump administration must get these children and parents reunited.”
The administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of detaining all those caught crossing the border and separating more than 2,500 children has led to chaos, confusion, nationwide outrage, multiple legal challenges and vociferous oppositions among most Americans, as well as Democratic, and some Republican, lawmakers.
Trump signed a June 20 executive order that he said would halt the family separations. About 500 children have been reunited with their parents, the administration says.
This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News.
Gary Gately, a seasoned journalist, has won 15 national, regional and local awards for reporting and writing news, investigative, public service, feature, business and travel pieces. Gately’s work has been published by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun (where he worked in reporting and editing jobs for 11 years), Baltimore Examiner, the Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Newsweek, Arrive Magazine, The Center for Public Integrity, CBSNews.com, CNBC.com, ABCNews.com, USAToday.com, HealthDay, The Crime Report, United Press International and numerous other newspapers, websites and magazines. His coverage has received awards from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Society of American Travel Writers (first-place Lowell Thomas Award for best newspaper travel story/U.S.-Canada (immigrant New York). Gately also has extensive experience editing for newspapers and websites, has taught college journalism courses in news writing, magazine writing and travel writing and is the author of Maryland: Anthem to Innovation, a book on the state’s history, industries and attractions.