US federal judge warns government to release immigrant kids

The U.S. government must reunite 63 children under the age of five who were separated by immigration officials after crossing into the United States from Mexico as soon as Tuesday (July 10) or face penalties, a federal judge said.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego told government attorneys he was sticking with deadlines he set last month when he ordered children under five to be reunited Tuesday and another 2,000 to be back with their parents by July 26.

“I think the takeaway today was the deadlines are not aspirational, he wants the 65 individuals who are in the country today who the government admits are part of the class, to be reunited today,” said Lee Gelernt, ACLU attorney, outside court. “If they are not reunited today he wants in a status report by 3:00 pm Thursday, Pacific Time, to hear who is reunited and if they weren’t reunited why they weren’t and he wants us, the plaintiffs, to tell him what relief we’re seeking if the government misses these deadlines.”

The children were taken from their parents under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which called for the prosecution and detention of adult immigrants crossing the border without authorization.

Sabraw also asked the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit that led to Sabraw’s June order, to file papers on Thursday suggesting remedies if the government had not reunified the 63 children by Tuesday “or within immediate proximity of today.”