Faced with a judge’s order earlier this week requiring the Trump administration to stop separating migrant children from their parents and reunite already separated families by July, the Justice Department signaled Friday that it likely will seek to hold families together in long-term detention.
In a “Notice of Compliance” filing, the Justice Department
indicated the administration would be willing to hold families in detention
long-term, something the Obama administration was unwilling to do because of
its inherent cruelty.
is a response to both this week’s ruling by U.S.
District Judge Dana Sabraw in the Southern District of California and
previous court rulings limiting the detention of immigrant children to 20 days.
It says, “The government will not separate families but detain families
together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are
apprehended at or between ports of entry,” The
Washington Post reported.
Former Justice Department immigration lawyer Leon Fresco told
Axios that this policy would force a “Sophie’s choice” situation for migrant
parents in which “either they keep their kids in detention for an extended
period of time, or allow
them to be taken into the custody of the Department of Health and Human
“There is no one who thinks the solution to family
separation is family detention,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal told MSNBC’s Joy
Reid on Saturday.
Under the Obama administration, families often were released
prior to their immigration hearings, sometimes with ankle monitors. President
Donald Trump has called this policy “catch and release” and vowed to end the
According to the Post,
“The Justice Department argued that while the previous settlement had compelled
it to release minors ‘without unnecessary delay,’ the new court order, ‘which
requires that the minor be kept with the parent, makes delay necessary in these
circumstances.’” This means families could be detained for months.
As to Judge
Sabraw’s ruling last Tuesday, officials are required to reunify children
under 5 with their parents by July 10 and the remaining children by July 26.
According to CNN, attorneys representing numerous migrant families said they
have seen no progress on reunification in recent days.
Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced
the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy over two months ago, some
2,500 migrant children have been separated from their parents. According to
the Post, only about 500 of those
children have since been reunited.