A federal judge ordered Trump to stop ripping families apart at the border and to return those children already taken from their families.
With a sweeping ruling in which she called Trump’s man-made humanitarian calamity a “crisis,” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw demanded all detained children be reunited within 30 days, and those younger than five years old within two weeks.
“We are a country of laws, and of compassion,” Sabraw wrote. “We have plainly stated our intent to treat refugees with an ordered process, and benevolence, by codifying principles of asylum.
She added, “Placing the burden on the parents to find and request reunification with their children under the circumstances presented here is backwards. When children are separated from their parents under these circumstances, the Government has an affirmative obligation to track and promptly reunify these family members.”
Sadly, prompt reunifications might be an impossible task, since right now the Trump administration is not set up to bring thousands of children back to their parents.
Until now, the Trump plan has been, and still seems to be, to hold the children as hostages in order pressure parents to voluntarily drop their asylum cases and agree to leave the country.
The case that Sabraw ruled on was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of parents who had been separated from children and detained in immigration custody after crossing the border.
The crisis was manufactured by Trump and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who implemented a zero tolerance push, which meant undocumented families crossing at the border were immediately arrested and separated.
Following weeks of brutal denunciations from U.S. citizens, and religious and human rights groups around the world, Trump staged a White House signing last week, where he pretended to address the issue with a bogus executive order.
Since then, very little has been done to remedy the crisis.
As Sabraw wrote:
Second, the practice of separating these families was implemented without any effective system or procedure for (1) tracking the children after they were separated from their parents, (2) enabling communication between the parents and their children after separation, and (3) reuniting the parents and children after the parents are returned to immigration custody following completion of their criminal sentence. This is a startling reality. The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings. Money, important documents, and automobiles, to name a few, are routinely catalogued, stored, tracked and produced upon a detainees’ 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.
Not only have Trump’s heartless family separations been immoral, they’re also clearly illegal.
Published with permission of The American Independent.