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White House Faces Hard Deadline On Reunited Migrant Families

A demonstrator hold up a sign during a rally opposed to President Trump's family separation policy, in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 21, 2018.
Associated Press
A demonstrator hold up a sign during a rally opposed to President Trump's family separation policy, in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 21, 2018.
White House Faces Hard Deadline On Reunited Migrant Families
White House Faces Hard Deadline On Reunited Migrant Families GUEST: Bianca Bruno, reporter, Courthouse News Service

There has also been a decision in a case we have covered all week. A federal judge in San Diego has ordered that immigrant children separated from their parents by the Trump administrations zero polished -- tolerance policy must be reunited with their families within 30 days. The judge agreed with the decision of the ACLU. The younger Bruno joins me with courthouse news. Welcome, Priyanka. What is the actual triumph -- timeframe for unification ? speed for all families they have to be reunited in a month and 30 days. For children under five, most people are especially concerned about them about young infants and babies under one. They have to be reunited with their parents within 14 days for all kids and parents, the government also has to allow them to speak over the phone within 10 days. >>> What was the legal justification the judge gave for this ruling? >> The case was filed in February before zero tolerance was announced. Really, the ACLU that brought the case, they showed that this practice or policy was happening before the government even announced it was happening. The government had argued that they could separate families because they needed to work out whether parents were actually related to kids. At one point, the product the issue of human trafficking that maybe the kids did not belong to them. The judge in the case in San Diego, he said why are you just doing a DNA test to prove parentage. He ordered a DNA test which is why the plaintiff miss Al and her daughter were reunited. They were reunited a few days after the test showed that she was apparent. The ACLU said by separating parents and kids without any justification, the parents are found not to be unfit or abusive, it is violating due process rights under the Constitution. It does not fly. The order yesterday, he said that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits. They had a case. >>> This was a strongly worded ruling issued by the judge, wasn't it? See in he highlight -- >> He highlighted the media attention on the case. He said because the government is not communicating among the agencies and there are agencies involved in immigration and in taking care of the children, he said that they are taking -- keeping track of people's personal property more than the children. This was an issue that came up last week when he held an emergency telephone conference following the executive order on immigration. He said why aren't these agencies communicating? The office of refugee resettlement is the one that is taking care of the kids. They are not communicating with homeland security. Basically when a parent was released from detention for an immigration offense, and their child was being taken care of at the office of refugee resettlement, those two agencies were not communicating about when the parent was released. You would think that there would be a process in place before they separated children from their families. That was missing. That is why the judge decided what he did yesterday. >>> This ruling also addresses the status of detained parents and says the government cannot be desk or deport them until they are reunited with their kids. Is that right? >> That is correct. There were media reports over the past couple of weeks that some parents were detained without children. Last week, there was a memorandum from the government that suggested that if a parent wanted to be reunited with their child, they would have to be deported. >>> I have been speaking with Priyanka Bruno. Thank you. >>> Thank you.

UPDATE: 7:05 a.m., June 27, 2018

The clock is ticking for the Trump administration after a federal judge ordered thousands of migrant children and parents reunited within 30 days, sooner if the youngster is under 5.

Judge Order Families Separated At Border To Be Reunited
A judge in San Diego, California has ordered U.S. border authorities to reunite separated families within 30 days.
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The hard deadline was set Tuesday night by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego after President Donald Trump's order ending the separation of families at the Mexican border gave way to days of uncertainty, conflicting information and no guidance from the administration on when parents might see their children again.

"This situation has reached a crisis level," Sabraw wrote.

The order poses a host of logistical problems for the administration, and it was unclear how it would meet the deadline.

Health and Human Services, which takes charge of the children, referred questions to the Justice Department.

RELATED: States Sue To Pressure Trump To Reunite Immigrant Families

The Justice Department said the ruling makes it "even more imperative that Congress finally act to give federal law enforcement the ability to simultaneously enforce the law and keep families together."

"Without this action by Congress, lawlessness at the border will continue," the department said.

Sabraw, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, said children under 5 must reunited with their parents within 14 days.

He also issued a nationwide injunction against future family separations, unless the parent is deemed unfit or doesn't want to be with the child, and ordered the government to provide phone contact between parents and their children within 10 days.

The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued in March on behalf of a 7-year-old girl who was separated from her Congolese mother and a 14-year-old boy who was taken from his Brazilian mother.

"Tears will be flowing in detention centers across the country when the families learn they will be reunited," said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks and placed in government-contracted shelters — hundreds of miles away, in some cases — under a now-abandoned policy toward families caught illegally entering the U.S.

Amid an international outcry, Trump last week issued an executive order to stop the separation of families and said parents and children will instead be detained together.

But parents already separated from their children were left in the dark on when and how they would be reunited, and Homeland Security seemed only to sow more confusion over the weekend.

"The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the Government's own making," Sabraw wrote. "They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution."

The task ahead could be monumental: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress on Tuesday that his department still has custody of 2,047 immigrant children separated from their parents at the border — only six fewer than last Wednesday.

Democratic senators said that wasn't nearly enough progress.

Under questioning, Azar refused to be pinned down on how long it will take to reunite families. He said his department does extensive vetting of parents to make sure they are not traffickers masquerading as parents.

Also challenging will be the requirement the judge set on phone contact.

At a Texas detention facility near Los Fresnos, immigrant advocates complained that parents have gotten busy signals or no answer from a 1-800 number set up by federal authorities to get information about their children.

"The U.S. government never had any plan to reunite these families that were separated," Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia said Tuesday. The government is now "scrambling to undo this terrible thing that they have done."