Families Cannot Be Split Up at the Us Border for Eight Years, According to a Federal Judge
In an effort to prevent the recurrence of a controversial Trump-era policy that he hasn’t ruled out if voters elect him to the White House again next year, a federal judge on Friday barred the separation of families at the border for an eight-year period.
Just moments before approving a settlement between the Justice Department and families represented by the American Civil Liberties Union that ended a legal challenge nearly seven years after it was filed, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said, “This represents one of the most shameful chapters in the history of our country” regarding the separation of thousands of families.
President George W. Bush’s appointee Sabraw issued an order in June 2018 to cease the separations, six days after the then-President Donald Trump had stopped them unilaterally in the face of strong international criticism. Additionally, because government databases weren’t linked, the judge ordered the government to reunite children with their parents within 30 days, which caused a chaotic rush. The children had been distributed to shelters around the nation, where the staff members had no idea where to look or who their parents were.
The judge reminisced and applauded the attorneys on both sides, recalling how the policy’s implementation in 2017 and 2018 had left him progressively dismayed after learning of the original charges. The approach is “brutal, offensive, and fails to comply with traditional notions of fair play and decency,” he said, reading from an earlier decision.
Sabraw cited an additional 2018 court document that detailed the number of parents who were deported without being aware of their children’s whereabouts. “Very harsh,” he remarked.
The ACLU claims that 68 children who were separated under the policy have not yet been located by the government or volunteers to find out if they are safe and reunited with family or loved ones. “Always my greatest fear and concern,” according to Sabraw, are those youngsters who are unaccounted for.
The settlement forbids the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which resulted in the separation of over 5,000 children from their parents who were detained for unauthorized immigration, until December 2031.
As it has for years, children may still be separated, but only in certain situations. These consist of whether the parent has been found guilty of a serious crime, whether the child is suspected of being abused, or whether there are questions about the adult’s paternity.
Other benefits that may be available to families that were split up include humanitarian parole, which allows them to maintain legal status for a maximum of three years, government-funded reunification within the country, one year of housing, three years of counseling, and legal assistance in immigration court. Families are not compensated financially by the deal, though. The Biden administration discussed paying parents and kids hundreds of thousands of dollars per in 2021, but negotiations came to a standstill.
Trump has not said whether he will try to bring back family separations as he looks to win the presidency again in the upcoming elections. In an interview with Univision last month, he justified the outcomes, saying that it “stopped people from coming by the hundreds of thousands” without providing any supporting data.
“You don’t come when you find out that you’re going to be split up from your family. You come when you think you’re going to enter the country with your family, according to Trump.
The settlement represents attempts to remedy a “cruel and inhumane policy, and our steadfast adherence to our nation’s most dearly held values,” according to a statement made earlier by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, which was cited by the Department of Homeland Security on Friday.
Reporters were informed by ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt that the judge’s remarks on Friday “said it all.” This was a sad moment in the history of our nation.
The Trump team did not immediately comment on Friday’s decision.