Judge Halts Trump Admin from Deporting Reunited Families and Admonishes Administration’s Slow Response on Reuniting Children
San Francisco-based federal Judge Dana Sabraw on Monday said the government must halt the deportations of reunified families in response to a filing by the ACLU that claimed the government has refused to deny "that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification." Lawyers from the ACLU had expressed concern that they would not be able to meet and represent families, many of whom make asylum claims, if they were quickly deported. The Department of Health and Human Services now faces a July 26th deadline to reunify the remaining children. Sabraw admonished HHS in a ruling on Friday saying the agency “either doesn’t understand the court’s order, or is acting in defiance of the order” to reunify some 2,500 children with their parents separated at the southern border. He also questioned the federal government’s commitment to do so. The judge, a George W. Bush appointee whose mother is Japanese, also issued a detailed timeline for parties to meet his deadline of complete reunification and suggested the department was attempting to "provide cover to Defendants for their own conduct in the practice of family separation, and the lack of foresight and infrastructure necessary to remedy the harms caused by that practice." Christopher Meekins, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, told the court Friday: "My opinion is that the court's necessary truncating of the vetting process for class membership -- including suspension of critical information-gathering through mandatory completion of family reunification packets -- materially increases the risk that HHS will reunify a child with a parent who will abuse them." The judge said there must be determinations confirming parentage and assessing the parents' fitness to receive children and the children's safety before any parent is reunited with his or her child -- and that his order is not incompatible with moving quickly on the reunifications. More here.