A federal judge has banned the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border for eight years

FILE - Migrant families wade through shallow waters toward Roma, Texas, March 24, 2021. A federal judge was poised Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, to ban the separation of families at the border with the aim of deterring immigration for eight years.  (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, file)

(Dario Lopez-Mills/Associated Press)

A federal judge has banned the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border for eight years

Immigration and the border

ELLIOT SPAGAT

Dec. 8, 2023

A federal judge on Friday banned the separation of families at the border for eight years to stop immigration. In doing so, he preemptively blocked the resumption of a Trump-era lightning rod policy that the former president has not ruled out if voters send him back to the White House. House next year.

The separation of thousands of families represents one of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said moments before approving a settlement between the Justice Department and families represented by the American Civil Liberties Union that ended to a legal dispute. seven years after it was filed.

Sabraw, appointed by President George W. Bush, ordered an end to the separations in June 2018, six days later — President Trump single-handedly kept them amid intense international opposition. The judge also ordered that the government reunite the children with their parents within 30 days, sparking a frenzy as government databases were not linked. Children were scattered to shelters across the country, not knowing who their parents were or how to find them.

As he reminisced and congratulated lawyers for both sides, the judge recalled a sense of horror at the initial allegations and how subsequent revelations left him increasingly appalled at the way the policy was implemented in 2017 and 2018.

He read from an earlier order in which he said the practice was cruel and insulting and inconsistent with traditional notions of fair play and decency.

Sabraw pointed to another court filing from 2018 that detailed how many parents were deported without knowing where their children were. Just cruel, he said.

According to the ACLU, government and volunteers still need to locate 68 children separated under the policy to determine if they are safe and reunited with family or loved ones.

Sabraw said the missing children were always my biggest fear and concern.

Under the settlement, the type of zero-tolerance policy under which the Trump administration separated more than 5,000 children from parents arrested for entering the country illegally would be banned until December 2031.

Children can still be separated, but under limited circumstances, as has been the case for years. This includes suspicion that the child has been abused, if the parent has been convicted of serious crimes or if there is doubt as to whether the adult is the parent.

Families who have been separated may be eligible for different legal status for up to three years on humanitarian parole; reunification in the United States at government expense; one year of housing; three years of guidance; legal aid in immigration court. But the settlement doesn’t pay families any money. In 2021, the Biden administration considered compensating parents and children hundreds of thousands of dollars each, but talks stalled.

As he seeks to return to the White House in next year’s election, Trump has been noncommittal about whether he would seek to resume family separations. He defended the policy in one

interview with Univisie

last month, claiming without evidence that it was stopping people from gathering by the hundreds of thousands. If you hear that you are being separated from your family, you don’t come. If you think you’re going to the United States with your family, come, Trump said.

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday referred to an earlier statement from Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that the settlement reflects efforts to address cruel and inhumane policies, and our steadfast adherence to our country’s most cherished values.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told reporters that the judge’s comments Friday said it all: This was a tragic episode in our country’s history.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to the statement on Friday.

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