On Tuesday, a San Diego federal judge ordered for immigration officials to reunite families who were separated at the U.S. border. This follows the signing of an executive order by President Donald Trump that included the same indications. The judge’s decision also took into consideration a previously filed lawsuit by an anonymous woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and backed by American Civil Liberties Union.
District Court Judge Dana Sabraw stated that the order specifies that the reunion between the families would be done only after the parents’ case is solved, so that they can “be deported together”. This specific part of the legislation is one that avoided for the Trump administration to find legal trouble and for the order to be passed by court. Many stated that Trump’s procedure could have been considered as illegal, since the children would be under U.S. custody and that requires for them to be in a safe environment.
However, the judge also added that the order did not specify what would happen to families who have already been separated or will be in the near future. He wrote: “the record also reflects that the practice of family separation was occurring before the zero tolerance policy was announced, and that practice has resulted in the casual, if not deliberate, separation of families that lawfully present at the port of entry, not just those who cross into the country illegally.”
He did not shy away from stating his concerns over the order. He especially focused on a statement in the document that would allow for families to still be separated in the case that officials consider for their detention together to pose a threat for the child’s welfare. His ruling instructed for immigration agents to stop separating families “without an objective finding that a parent is unfit”, reunify all children within the next 30 days and to create communication between parents and children via telephone within 10 days. He specified that children under the age of five must be reunited within 14 days, and all the other ones in less than a month.
Afterward, he also stated: “The facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making. They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.”
While the President signed the order last Wednesday, the execution of his request has been very troubled and inefficient, as over two thousand children are still to be reunited with their parents. The procedures also made the news late last week, as many New York officials stated that they were not informed of the children’s locations in their state, and lacked information necessary to identify them such as their age or names. Over 300 children had apparently been sent to shelters on Harlem throughout the past couple of months, and the officials now responsible for their custody and reunion with their parents were just informed of their presence in New York.
Several officials stated that they tried to reach out to the federal government with questions, yet their emails were never replied to. Such a disastrous state of communication between the government and the officials demonstrated that President Trump’s decision was quick and without any previous notification to people involved in the order’s execution.
The executive order has not come without its own share of deserved controversy and criticism, as it indicates that families will be detained together in facilities. Many have called for this to still be “inhumane” and immoral, and that presenting it as a complete solution for the problem is counterproductive.