Court Battles

Judge rules in favor of administration on family separations at border

A U.S. judge ruled the Trump administration acted within its authority when it separated more than 900 children from their parents at the border after determining the parents to be unfit or dangerous.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw’s ruling rejected the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) claims that the administration was returning to the previously condemned policies of widespread child separation by using minor criminal history as criteria to separate families.

Sabraw indicated he was uncomfortable questioning the administration’s choices to separate children if the parents were designated as unfit or dangerous or based on other factors like criminal history, communicable diseases and doubts about parentage, The Associated Press reported

He said in his 26-page decision that he found no evidence to conclude the government was abusing its power.

“It is an invitation that is potentially massive in scope, invades an area that is particularly within the province of the executive branch to secure the nation’s border, and goes beyond this court’s class certification and preliminary injunction orders, which were focused on the administration’s practice of separating families at the border for the purpose of deterring immigration, and failing to reunify those families,” Sabraw wrote, according to the AP.

The judge did rule that the administration would have to resolve parentage disputes through 90-minute DNA tests, which the government had objected to due to “operational concerns,” according to the AP.

The ACLU celebrated the decision on DNA tests and said it is determining next steps.

“We are evaluating the decision to determine next steps on how to ensure that children are not separated from their parents based on minor infractions,” attorney Lee Gelernt said in a statement provided to The Hill.

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.

This decision comes after Sabraw had previously ruled against the “zero tolerance” family separation policy, ordering 2,800 children to be returned to their families. The judge later also ruled that the 1,500 children separated earlier in Trump’s presidency had to be returned.

—Updated at 5:57 p.m.

Tags ACLU Border family separation Immigration

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