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Local Judge May Order DHS to Reunite Separated Families

Critics of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies made an emotional plea in federal court Friday, urging a judge to stop “a humanitarian crisis of the utmost importance” by immediately ordering the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reunite parents and children separated at the border.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that babies and toddlers are “suffering immeasurably” and their parents are dealing with “deep, deep depression” caused by those separations.

The attorney’s asked Judge Dana Sabraw to issue an immediate injunction that would clarify and expand on President Trump’s executive order that ended the separations, and require immediate action by DHS to reunite parents and their children.

Government lawyers acknowledged there are communication problems between DHS and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the facilities that house children separated from their parents. But the Justice Department said it needs more time to respond to the ACLU’s demand for immediate relief.

Judge Sabraw agreed, and told both sides to submit their arguments in writing by next Wednesday. Sabraw could rule on the ACLU’s request as early as next Thursday.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt urged Judge Sabraw to move more quickly, and suggested that the lawyers work over the weekend, so the judge could issue his decision Monday. But Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian said she needed more time to gather information from DHS and other agencies. Judge Sabraw agreed with her request.

Friday’s status conference at the downtown San Diego federal courthouse involves a lawsuit filed in February, long before family separations dominated the daily news cycle.

The ACLU, a liberal advocacy group, represents a mother and daughter from the Democratic Republic of Congo who were separated last November at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. According to the lawsuit, the mother was detained here and her 7-year-old daughter was sent to an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the mother and daughter were reunited in March, but the lawsuit (Ms. L v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) continues, with the ACLU and other immigrant rights groups seeking broad changes to Homeland Security family detention practices.

Photo Credit: Libre by Nexus
Source: NBC San Diego

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