A federal judge on Tuesday night ordered the Trump administration to halt all family separations and reunify all children taken from their parents as part of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy within the next 30 days.
U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of California Dana Sabraw ordered the injunction stopping the family separation process, writing in his ruling:
There is no genuine dispute that the Government was not prepared to accommodate the mass influx of separated children. Measures were not in place to provide for communication between governmental agencies responsible for detaining parents and those responsible for housing children, or to provide for ready communication between separated parents and children. There was no reunification plan in place, and families have been separated for months.
Sabraw’s ruling mandates that migrant families detained at the U.S. border may not be separated if the parents pose no threat to the children. He also wrote that parents may not be deported out of the U.S. without their children.
Currently there are over 2,0000 separated children being held in federal custody since the Trump administration rolled out its policy.
Perhaps most importantly, Sabaw ruled that children under five years old already detained by the government must be reunited with their families within 14 days of his order. Children over five must be reunited within 30 days. Separated families must also be allowed to contact one another within 10 days of his ruling.
Sabraw made a point of criticizing the Trump administration for both its family separation order and its subsequent bungling of the policy.
“The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive governance—responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making,” Sabraw wrote. “They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution. This is particularly so in the treatment of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers and small children.
“The unfortunate reality is that under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property,” he added.
The case was originally filed by the ACLU on behalf of a separated Congolese family. In response to the ruling, the Justice Department falsely laid the blame for the larger issue of family separation squarely on Congress’ shoulders.
“[The decision] makes it even more imperative that Congress finally act to give federal law enforcement the ability to simultaneously enforce the law and keep families together,” a DOJ spokesperson told CNN.