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San Diego Judge Considers Expanding Migrant Family Reunification Case

A line of asylum-seekers wait at the Pedwest crossing in Tijuana, Oct. 25, 2018.

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: A line of asylum-seekers wait at the Pedwest crossing in Tijuana, Oct. 25, 2018.

A federal judge in San Diego plans to rule within the next few days on whether to expand a family separation case at the U.S.-Mexico border to include potentially thousands more migrant children who may need to be reunified.

The family reunification order last summer only applied to children separated under very specific circumstances: those roughly 2,600 who were still in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

But now, Judge Dana Sabraw said he thinks the U.S. should provide information on all families separated unlawfully by the Trump administration, going back to the summer of 2017.

RELATED: Mother's Journey Shows Some Asylum-Seekers Are Reaching The US

Sabraw says investigative reporting and the Inspector General have brought to light new information showing family separations did not start happening in 2018 but the year before. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said those children deserve a chance to be reunified too.

“There could be little children sitting in the United States without their parents who are just every day longing to be with their parents," he said.

Attorneys for the government said expanding the case like this would be "an intensive and invasive burden." But Sabraw said he thinks the U.S. may have addressed only "the tip of the iceberg" so far.

Sabraw said the plaintiffs are not "clairvoyant" and that there was no way for the ACLU or the court to know that there were potentially thousands of more children that the government had separated from their parents until the information was uncovered by other parties.

A federal judge in San Diego plans to rule within the next few days on whether to expand a family separation case at the U.S.-Mexico border to include potentially thousands more migrant children.

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