U.S. District Court Judge Rules That Separated Immigrant Children Must be Reunited With Parents Within Thirty Days

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, United States District Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the Southern District of California granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a preliminary injunction seeking to reunite children affected by the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

The order granting preliminary injunction requires that children under five (5) years of age must be reunited with their parents within fourteen (14) days; children older than five (5) years of age must be reunited with their parents within thirty (30) days. The order also requires that federal authorities permit parents to call their children within ten (10) days if they are not already in contact with their children. Further, the order forbids federal authorities from detaining or deporting parents without their children, unless authorities determine that “the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child.”

The request for preliminary injunction was opposed by attorneys for the federal government, who stated that President Trump’s executive order addresses the family separation concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union. The government attorneys also stated that federal agencies are already working to reunite the approximately 2,000 families separated at U.S. borders. In counter, the American Civil Liberties Union argued, without dispute, that “ICE has no plans or procedures in place to reunify the parent with the child other than arranging for them to be deported together after the parent’s immigration case is concluded.” Judge Sabraw agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the executive order did not eliminate the need for an injunction. Judge Sabraw concluded that the facts set forth in the filings “portray reactive governance,” which “belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.”

Additional Reading

California federal judge orders separated children reunited with parents within 30 days, Los Angeles Times (June 27, 2018)

Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Classwide Preliminary Injunction