Sat | Aug 18, 2018

US judge temporarily halts deportation of reunified migrant families

Published:Tuesday | July 17, 2018 | 2:46 PM
FILE - In this July 13, 2018, file photo, Allison, 6, and her mother Cindy Madrid share a moment during a news conference in Houston, where the mother and daughter spoke about the month and one day they were separated under the President Donald Trump administration immigration policy. (Marie D. De Jes’s/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt to deportations of immigrant families reunited after being separated at the border, as the Trump administration races to meet a July 26 deadline for putting more than 2,500 children back in their parents’ arms.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw imposed a delay of at least a week after a request from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which cited “persistent and increasing rumours ... that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification.”

Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart opposed the delay but did not address the rumours in court.

The ACLU requested that parents have at least one week to decide whether to pursue asylum in the U.S. after they are reunited with their children.

The judge held off on deciding that issue until the government outlines its objections in writing by next Monday.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told reporters that he was “extremely pleased” by the halt and that parents need time to think over with their children and advisers whether to seek asylum.

“It’s hard to imagine a more profound or momentous decision,” he said.

The hearing in San Diego occurred as the government accelerated reunifications at eight unidentified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement locations.

The families are scattered around the country with the adults at immigration detention centres and the children at shelters overseen by the government.

Annunciation House, a shelter in El Paso, said the government has begun transporting children in a “tremendous amount of airline flights” to El Paso and elsewhere.

Director Ruben Garcia said he is preparing to take in as many as 100 reunified families a day.

Late last month, Sabraw ordered the government to reunite the thousands of children and parents who were forcibly separated at the border by the Trump administration this spring.

He set a deadline of July 10 for children under 5 and gave the government until July 26 to reunite 2,551 youngsters ages 5 to 17.

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