US judge bans separation of migrant families at southern border

A US federal judge on Friday prohibited for eight years the separation of migrant families at the country’s southern border, a policy implemented by the government of former president Donald Trump.

Judge Dana Sabraw definitively approved an agreement between the US Department of Justice and the civil rights organization American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which prevents authorities from separating minors from their parents, except for medical or safety reasons.

Friday’s decision also gives the green light to certain benefits for families who were affected by Trump’s separation policy, such as housing and work authorization.

The agreement will benefit about 5,000 families and will take effect on Dec. 11, according to the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit in 2018.

“This settlement is a critical step toward closing one of the darkest chapters of the Trump administration,” lead ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said. “Babies and toddlers were literally ripped from their parents’ arms under this horrific practice.”

The settlement also includes processes through which the government must provide information to family members who have been separate, in addition to specifying the circumstances under which the government must reunify the family when the situation allows it.

Trump, who is seeking to run again in the 2024 presidential election, enacted a “zero tolerance” policy at the border, charging adults who crossed into US territory irregularly.

The minors, who could not be held in federal prison by law, were therefore separated from their parents and placed in the hands of the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some 5,500 minors were separated from their families at the border within the framework of Trump’s anti-immigration policy. Most of them have been reunited with their families, although there are still hundreds who remain under the guardianship of the government.

As of September 2023, a task force created by the current government to address this problem reunited more than 760 children with their families, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security

by TTU