A US judge called the Trump administration’s efforts to reunite migrant parents and their detained children “unacceptable”, adding the government – not non-governmental organisations – is responsible for bringing them back together.
In an attempt to increase the number of parents and children that are reunited, the judge on Friday ordered the government to appoint a person to take charge of its efforts.
“This is going to be a significant undertaking and it’s clear there has to be one person in charge,” Judge Dana Sabraw said at a hearing in San Diego. “The reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanent orphaned child.”
Sabraw is the judge who ordered the government to reunite about 2,500 separated children with their parents by July 26. About 1,900 of those children have been reconnected with family members so far, but hundreds remain incarcerated.
Trump administration attorneys filed an unusual request in a district court in southern California, arguing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other non-profits and charities should carry the burden of finding the 410 deported migrant parents.
Sabraw, however, struck down that idea saying it was “100 percent the responsibility of the administration”.
“Many of these parents were removed from the country without their child; all of this is the result of the government’s separation and then inability and failure to track and reunite,” the judge said.
The parents and children were separated as part of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy towards immigration, sparking global outrage as images and recordings of weeping children emerged.
“The judge is refusing to let the government off the hook for the mess it made,” said lawyer Lee Gelernt of the ACLU, which sued the government over the separations.
Gelernt also accused Washington of holding back information that could help locate the deported parents. “Every day the government has sat on this information has been another day of suffering for these families,” he said.
In a different case, a court ordered the Trump’s administration on Friday to fully reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, programme.
Passed by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA shields from deportation about 800,000 undocumented immigrants – known as Dreamers – who were brought to the US as children.
US District Judge John Bates in Washington DC first issued a ruling in April ordering the government to continue the programme, adding he would stay the decision for 90 days so it could make its case for why it should be ended.
Following the government’s arguments, Bates decided not to change his ruling. He gave the administration until August 23 to appeal.
Trump has railed time and again against the DACA programme, calling on Congress to pass legislation to address the fate of the Dreamers.
Trump promised to end DACA during his 2016 election campaign and the protections were set to begin to be phased out in early March.