Federal Judge in California Issues Injunction Halting Government From Separating Families

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WASHINGTON — A federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction late Tuesday temporarily stopping the Trump administration from separating children from their parents at the border and ordered that all families already separated be reunited within 30 days.

Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the Federal District Court in San Diego said children under 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, and he ordered that all children must be allowed to talk to their parents within 10 days.

“The unfortunate reality is that under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property,” the judge wrote.

Judge M. Sabraw’s order, which is likely to prompt a high-profile legal battle with the Justice Department, came on the same day that President Trump won a landmark legal victory when the Supreme Court upheld his travel ban, ending a 17-month legal fight.

But the judge’s ruling in the family separation case raises the stakes on an issue that had already become an intensely difficult political crisis for Mr. Trump. The president last week 

issued an executive order seeking to bring family separations to an end, but saying little about reuniting families.The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit to stop the separations before the president’s executive order. In his order, Judge Sabraw said that children may be separated at the border only if the adults with them present an immediate danger to the children.

He also said that adults may not be deported from the United States without their children.

“The facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making,” the judge wrote in the opinion. “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.”

In a statement, Lee Gelernt, the lead lawyer in the case for the A.C.L.U., hailed the judge’s order.

“This is an enormous win and will mean that this humanitarian crisis is coming to an end,” Mr. Gelernt said. “We hope the Trump administration will not think about appealing when the lives of these little children are at stake.”

 

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