By Miriam Raftery
July 16, 2018 (San Diego) — U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego issued an order today blocking deportations of immigrant families until at least July 23 to assure that parents are not deported without their children, require the government to respond to ACLU papers, and to allow reunited families time to decide whether to seek asylum.
“The judge once again made clear that the government unconstitutionally took these children away and now must do everything in its power to reunite them safely and by the deadline,” says Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
The action comes as some families separated at the border have been reunited, but many others remain separated despite a court order to return all migrant children to their parents.
A speaker at El Cajon’s City Council meeting last Tuesday informed council that young immigrant girls were seen being driven into a federal facility in El Cajon where immigrant boys have been housed. Democratic Congressional representatives who visited the facility previously have raised concerns about the welfare of children separated from parents and housed at some 100 facilities across the nation, including three in San Diego County.
Separated children reunited with parents have shown clear signs of trauma from separation, with some silent and morose, others crying and clinging to parents, and one small child did not recognize her mother. Others showed evidence of neglect, unclean and infested with lice, and at least one returned child had a bruised eye and signs of abuse, according to reports by major media outlets.
The ACLU today sought a temporary restraining order to prevent parental deportations amid concerns that the government might quickly deport separated families without oversight or due process. The ACLU further argued that parents need at least a week after being reunited with their children to decide whether to seek asylum.
The judge gave the government one week to respond to ACLU arguments.
The ACLU won a preliminary injunction last month requiring the Trump administration to reunify all children under age 5 and some 2,500 children age 5 and older by July 26. But while some children have been reunited, most remain separated to date.
Judge Sabraw has rejected the government’s arguments that more time is needed to verity parentage, perform DNA testing and background checks on parents. “The task is laborious, but can be accomplished in the time and manner prescribed,” the judge later wrote. On Friday, the judge indicated he was having doubts over whether the Trump administration was acting in good faith.
Four hearings are scheduled in the next two weeks to assure that the government is complying with the court’s orders.
Case information is here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/ms-l-v-ice