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Judge Says Ban On Deporting Reunited Families To Remain In Effect

A child from Honduras is brought to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Associated Press
A child from Honduras is brought to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Judge Says Ban On Deporting Reunited Families To Remain In Effect
Judge Says Ban On Deporting Reunited Families To Remain In Effect GUEST: Jade Hindmon, reporter, KPBS

The government has been ordered to suspend deportations of recently reunited families separated at the border until further notice. Federal Court Judge Dana Sirah in San Diego yesterday extended his order to delay deportations to include a similar case from Washington D.C.. The order applies to both parents and children to give them time to consult with an attorney about their status and potential asylum petitions. Joining me is Kate PBS reporter Jade Heidemann who covered Wednesday's court hearing. And Jade welcome to the program. I'm or in. So Judge Sopra affirmed yesterday that the deportations stay he issued three weeks ago is still in effect. But this is not his final ruling is it. No it's not. And he's got a lot to consider. So I think he's a long way from giving a final ruling on this. He's really got to decide what type of proceedings these children and their parents will go through once they are all reunited while they go through an expedited deportation. How will their credible fear interviews go. Will it be a 240 proceeding. So there's a lot of issues there to work through and at this point some of these families are at different stages in the immigration process. And so he's got to figure out the best proceedings to sort of get everyone on the same page. Now yesterday Judge sobre looked at a lawsuit filed in another district court. Are these other lawsuits similar to the class action lawsuit filed here in San Diego by the ACLU to end family separation. There they are all similar. The ACLU is representing the parents. While a lot of these other organizations are representing the kids the goal is still common for all of these organizations and that there is an effort to keep them together and to have them not be immediately deported. The ACLU says the family should be allowed to stay together for seven days to determine how they want to move forward in their immigration or asylum claims. What is the ACLU saying about why that time period is crucial. Well they're saying you know these are big decisions that have to be made and families should be together when making them I talked to Bartis Vakili. He's the senior staff attorney over at the ACLU and he expressed the need for these families to stay together. These decisions are sometimes life and death are monumental decisions that their decisions about whether to support or stay whether to go back to a country that you fled or not. Whether to separate and maybe you never see each other again. And another thing that BQE mentioned was that it's important to keep the families together because what they're finding is the success rate of those credible fear interviews drops drastically when those children are separated from their families. So there is a chance that they don't find success in seeking asylum primarily because of the trauma associated with families being separated. So the judge has affirmed that these families are going to get some time before they are deported if indeed they are deported ultimately. But government attorneys are fighting any further delays on deportations. What what is their reasoning. So in listening to the phone hearing that they had yesterday the Government is arguing that while it's not healthy for these families to be kept in detention facilities they're also arguing that there's unrest happening in these facilities. And so they want to go ahead and get people deported. Obviously the ACLU and other organizations are arguing that perhaps expediting the immigration process might be a solution as well. You said yesterday's hearing was held by phone. Was there any update on the process of actually reuniting deported parents with their kids. You know they didn't spend a lot of time talking about that. But as of now of somewhere between 16 and 7500 families have been reunited. There are still maybe about 500 kids that are needing to be reunited with their parents some of which have been deported. Just last week Judge sobre was really critical of the government and his concern is that some of these children may now just be permanently orphaned because the government didn't necessarily have a plan in place to find and reunite them with the parents who have already been deported. And when is that issue going to be taken up again. They'll have a status update. Actually they're sending in paperwork for that today and then tomorrow they'll have another status update hearing. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Jane Heidemann. And Jane thank you. Thank you.

An order barring the federal government from deporting recently reunited parents and children who were separated at the border due to the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration will remain in effect until further notice, a San Diego judge overseeing the case said Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, considering a request for a temporary restraining order in a case transferred from the District of Columbia, said an order he issued three weeks ago prohibiting the government from removing reunified families from the United States before they've had a chance to discuss their immigration status is still in effect for both cases.

The plaintiffs in the case of M.M.M. v. Sessions got assurances from the judge that the order halting deportations applies to both parents and their children who may be seeking asylum hearings.

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"We're asking to maintain the status quo," an attorney on the case told the judge.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union won a nationwide injunction in its class-action lawsuit requiring reunification of children separated from their parents at the border.

Last week, Sabraw ordered the federal government to come up with a plan to find parents who have been deported or released back into the United States. He said it was "unacceptable" that the government had located only a few parents out of close to 500 who have been removed from the United States or released into the mainland.

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Sabraw ordered the government to put one person in charge of the effort to find parents who were separated from their children.

The ACLU said it needs more information from the government on the whereabouts of parents who have been removed from the United States and sent mainly to Honduras and Guatemala.

A status conference on the San Diego case is set for Friday at 1 p.m.