A new Trump administration victory over the border was unleashed Monday, Jan. 13, when a federal judge determined that President Donald Trump is operating within his authority in the case of separated families on the Mexican border, he told AP News.
The decision applies to family separation at the border because the Trump administration considers the parents unfit or dangerous. Approximately 900 children were separated under those criteria.
The ruling came in response to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration arguing it was dividing families over dubious charges and minor transgressions, including trafficking offenses.
The ACLU asked the judge in July to rule on whether the government was justified in separating children from their parents during the first year of the Zero Tolerance policy, before a court order stopped the practice in June 2018.
District Judge Dana Sabraw wrote in a 26-page statement, “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.”
The judge noted that the Trump administration acknowledged that it made a mistake in separating a mother who needed emergency surgery and a father who was HIV positive. However, she rejected the ACLU’s assertion that some allegations of gang affiliation were unfounded and said the government relied on “objective evidence, not accusations or intuition.”
“We are evaluating the decision to determine the next steps on how to ensure that children are not separated from their parents based on minor offenses,” said attorney Lee Gelernt, who represented the ACLU.
Family separations at the border have become a controversial issue.
Although the practice of separation was condemned internationally, what the Zero Tolerance policy at the border was intended to implement was greater control over what is known as catch and release.
This basically means that when families with children were caught trying to enter the country illegally (many of these were false and those children were victims of the treatment of people and criminal gangs). Since they could not be detained due to the Flores Agreement—which states that family detention is impossible and illegal, they were released while waiting for a trial. Trials could take years and in the meantime, in most cases, they did not appear.
It is known that there are criminal human trafficking organizations that train illegal immigrants to pose as families and thus gain unrestricted entry into the country, by virtue of the court ruling that families cannot be detained.
Many of these immigrants are members of criminal gangs and in fact the number of adult men who are trying to enter with their “children” has increased greatly.
The 900 children separated from their parents during that period of time when the Trump administration’s Zero Tolerance policy operated, were fed and provided with health care while attempts were made to locate the closest relatives in the country to take care of them until their case reached the judge (it may be years before that happens). Ultimately, they enter the system, receive education, health care, and live like any other citizen during that time.