The judge’s order does not mean the Trump administration must stop prosecuting people who cross the border illegally.
“This Order does not implicate the Government’s discretionary authority to enforce immigration or other criminal laws, including its decisions to release or detain class members. Rather, the Order addresses only the circumstances under which the Government may separate class members from their children, as well as the reunification of class members who are returned to immigration custody upon completion of any criminal proceedings,” Sabraw explained.
The American Civil Liberties Union originally filed the case against the Trump administration in February on behalf of a Congolese woman seeking asylum in the US who was separated from her 7-year-old daughter. The group now represents a wider class of plaintiffs.
“This ruling is an enormous victory for parents and children who thought they may never see each other again. Tears will be flowing in detention centers across the country when the families learn they will be reunited,” said Lee Gelernt, the Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case.
A Justice Department spokesperson said the decision “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, which will only lead to predictable results — more heroin and fentanyl pushed by Mexican cartels plaguing our communities, a surge in MS-13 gang members, and an increase in the number of human trafficking prosecutions,” the spokesperson said.
Sabraw’s order also referred to the family separations at the border — brought on by a Trump administration decision to refer all people caught crossing the border illegally for criminal prosecution — as reaching “a crisis level.”
“The news media is saturated with stories of immigrant families being separated at the border. People are protesting. Elected officials are weighing in. Congress is threatening action. Seventeen states have now filed a complaint against the Federal Government challenging the family separation practice,” Sabraw wrote.