The ACLU’s class action lawsuit Ms. L v. ICE to end immigrant family separation and immediately reunite children and parents has reached a pivotal point. The San Diego Union Tribune reports, San Diego federal judge orders separated children reunited with parents within 30 days:
A San Diego federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union that calls for all children affected by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy to be reunited with their parents within 30 days.
In a toughly worded opinion, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw wrote “the facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making. They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.
“The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process,” he added.
Under the order, children younger than 5 years old must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, while older children must be reunited with their parents within 30 days. Within 10 days, federal authorities must allow parents to call their children if they’re not already in contact with them.
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“This is a complete victory for these families and children who have been suffering for months,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. “Many of these parents and children thought they might never see each other again. They have literally been living through a nightmare and the court has now ended their trauma.”
The ruling comes after President Donald Trump last week responded to mounting public pressure by signing an executive order that halted the practice of separating children from parents who had been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal entry.
Attorneys for the government argued in a response filed Tuesday morning that the executive order already addresses the family separation concerns outlined in the ACLU lawsuit, and that federal agencies are working on reunification of the 2,000 or so families that remain apart.
“This Court should give the agencies time to take action, rather than issuing an injunctive order,” the government’s motion urges. “A court imposed process is likely to slow the reunification process and cause confusion and conflicting obligations, rather than speed the process of reunifying families in a safe and efficient manner.”
Under U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy, which criminally charges all unauthorized immigrants caught crossing the border, defendants are detained within the criminal system, often allowed to plead guilty and sentenced to serve little to no prison time. That process usually takes a few weeks to a month, then they are taken into immigration custody for the civil deportation process to begin.
The ACLU called for reunifications to occur during the civil process.
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The ACLU said “The government has no meaningful plan for swiftly ensuring that such reunifications occur,” Gelernt argued in his motion. “Thus, thousands of families remain separated, and many parents have no idea where their children are or how to find them. With each added day of separation, the terrible trauma inflicted by the government on both parents and children continues to mount. Many of the children are babies and toddlers who every night are crying themselves to sleep wondering if they will ever see their parents again.”
The ACLU made the injunction request as part of its class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of two women — one who was arrested after crossing the border illegally and one who claimed asylum at the border — who were separated from their children. Sabraw earlier this month had decided the lawsuit against the government’s family separation practice could move forward, calling the practice “brutal, offensive” and contrary to “traditional notions of fair play and decency.”
Then, after Trump’s executive order last week, Sabraw ordered a status conference to discuss the effect on the lawsuit. The ACLU requested the injunction then, but Sabraw said he wanted more briefing from both sides before ruling. He set out a briefing schedule for this week, but on Monday asked for expedited deadlines.
In its filing, the ACLU included several declarations from attorneys and immigrant advocates who provide specific examples of clients who are awaiting deportation. They said they were given an option to be deported with their children, but after hearing of others who have been deported without their children, they fear the same will happen to them.
“Parents who are facing imminent deportation without their separated children are in particularly grave need of immediate relief,” the ACLU’s brief argues.
The process for parents to find where their separated children are located has also been challenging, Gelernt argued. A hotline number parents can call regularly puts callers on hold for 30-minute periods, a stretch that is “infeasible for detained parents.” Lately, callers have been met with a busy signal.
A little joke fascist Stephen Miller devised from which he gets his daily yucks.
In related news, the Seattle Times reports, Washington, 16 other states sue Trump administration over family separations:
Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson has challenged the Trump administration in court over its policy to forcibly separate immigrant families, contending in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 17 states and the District of Columbia Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy violates constitutional due-process rights of parents and children and runs afoul of federal asylum laws.
“This case, like all our cases against this Administration, says something important about who we are as a people,” Ferguson is quoted as saying in a prepared statement that announced the lawsuit had been filed. “We will stand up for the Constitution, basic decency and fundamental American values. My office has not yet lost a lawsuit to the Trump Administration, and we do not intend to lose this one.”
The 128-page legal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, describes the administration’s practice of refusing asylum and separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border as a “cruel and unlawful policy” that already has resulted in the separation of more than 2,000 immigrant children and infants from their parents. The suit contends children have been “left to languish in makeshift detention facilities – where staff are sometimes told not to comfort them – until a placement is found for the child.”
“No law or court decision requires such separation,” the suit states. “Rather, Defendants have chosen to adopt the Policy as part of their `zero tolerance’ or `100 percent prosecution’ approach to individuals who enter the country unlawfully, irrespective of circumstances, and to then use such misdemeanor criminal charges to detain parents indefinitely in federal facilities that cannot accommodate families.”
The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the practice of denying asylum-seekers entry and separating immigrant families illegal and order the administration “to stop implementing them immediately.” It also asks the court to order the United States “to reunite every family separated by these unlawful acts immediately.”
Despite Trump’s signing an executive order June 20 that purportedly suspends the family separation policy, the lawsuit contends “any relief offered by the Order is illusory.”
“The Order says nothing about reuniting the families already ripped apart by the federal government, and Trump Administration officials have made clear the Order will have no impact on the thousands of families who have already been traumatized,” the lawsuit states.
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Last week, when Ferguson announced that he intended to file the lawsuit, he took the position that Trump’s executive order was meaningless because, among other things, it depends on passage of a congressional appropriation that may never happen as well as a judge’s ruling to change the Flores decree.
Other states joining Washington in the suit are Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
The lawsuit comes a day after the nonprofit Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued the Trump administration on behalf of three Central American women held in federal custody in Washington state, contending it is unnecessarily prolonging the separation of asylum-seeking immigrants from their children. That suit seeks class-action status on behalf of dozens of other immigrants separated from their children and detained in Washington state.
You should expect the plaintiffs in these several lawsuits to win these cases in the lower courts, until it gets to the five fascists on the U.S. Supreme Court who will give “Dear Leader” unlimited executive authority without ever questioning his xenophobic anti-immigrant racist motives.