Judge evaluates asking to locate other migrant families separated in frontier

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Judge evaluates asking to locate other migrant families separated in frontier Willy Sánchez (d) with his wife Lucila Serrano (c) and daughter Lila Sánchez after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States, in San Ysidro, San Diego, California (USA). Six people who had been deported to Mexico after being forced to sign their voluntary departure returned to the United States through San Diego (California) to fight their case in front of an immigration judge. EFE / Archive

 San Diego .- A federal judge announced that it will evaluate whether it requests that migrant families that were separated on the border with Mexico be located before the implementation of the “zero tolerance” policy.

Judge Dana Sabraw, who presides over a class-action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of undocumented parents and children, referred to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published by national media and which reflects that since the summer of 2017 a Incalculable number of migrant families were separated.

Sabraw heard this Thursday in a federal court in San Diego (California) the arguments of both parties and after a hearing of almost two hours chose to consider the request of the plaintiffs lawyers and promised to make his decision known “as soon as possible.”

The magistrate, who in June of last year ordered the government to reunify undocumented families separated at the border by the policy of “zero tolerance,” described the report issued by the Office of the Inspector General as “a significant event” and that it appears Be “100% true”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represents separated migrant families, had requested that the families referred to be included in the report, given that the court order issued as a result of the judicial process included some 2,800 children who were care of the federal authorities until June 26.

According to the ACLU, what is stated in the document deserves that the government is forced to identify all the children it separated from its parents, even before the mandate, and look for ways to reunify them.
Lee Gelernt, an ACLU lawyer, insisted during the hearing that they were “surprised” by the finding in the Office of the Inspector General’s report, since they did not imagine that there would be thousands more affected by this practice.

For his part, Scott Stewart, attorney for the Department of Justice (DOJ), said that forcing the identification of children who are no longer under the care of the Government would be a great burden and a “dramatic change” in the case.
“I’m just not sure we can continue like this,” he said at the hearing.

Sabraw alluded to past statements by the administration about how complicated it would be to locate the “thousands of minors” who were separated from their parents before the injunction, given that they lacked a system to trace their whereabouts.

“That is the harsh reality,” lamented the magistrate, who ordered in mid-July of last year to temporarily halt the deportations of newly reunited families, a mandate that remains in force today.

“Nobody, except a few people in the government, knew that these separations had been made nine or ten months before, and that hundreds if not thousands of children were being separated,” he added.

The judge said that if they agreed to the ACLU request, they could first identify how many children were harmed and then seek a way to reunify them with their parents if they wish.

For his part, Gelernt said that they would be willing to form a committee of lawyers and volunteers to help with that task, just as they did when they looked for parents who were deported after being separated from their children. (CA), ( EFEUSA)

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