Federal Judge Rules Family Separation Policy Doesn’t Violate Migrants’ Rights

By Shani Saxon Jan 15, 2020

A United States federal judge gave the Trump administration a small victory in its ongoing battle to dehumanize and terrorize Black and Brown immigrants. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District of California ruled on Monday (January 13) that the continued practice of separating families at the southern border based on guardians’ criminal backgrounds or health records is being executed properly, Al Jazeera reports. 

In June 2018, Sabraw ordered the Trump administration to halt the family separations taking place under the government’s widely criticized “zero-tolerance" immigration policy. The judge also gave the federal government 30 days to find and reunite more than 2,000 impacted families.

As Colorlines previously reported, the policy, which permitted the criminal prosecution of people who crossed into the United States with children, was officially ended via an executive order on June 20, 2018. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the administration of violating the judge’s order by continuing the practice and separating more than 900 additional families. 

In his Monday ruling, Judge Sabraw determined the federal government is “generally exercising their discretion to separate families at the border" in a manner consistent with migrants’ “rights to family integrity and the Court’s orders," Al Jazeera reports. 

The news outlet states:

The judge added there was no evidence before the court that the government has “returned to systematically separating families at the border."

Sabraw did say that the government should use its rapid DNA testing technology to confirm parentage and not separate families based on “subjective concerns" alone.

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt responded to Monday’s ruling with a statement obtained by Al Jazeera. “The court strongly reaffirmed that the Trump administration bears the burden if it attempts to separate families based on an accusation that the adult is not the child’s parent," he said. 

The U.S. Department of Justice has so far declined to comment on Sabraw’s latest ruling, per Al Jazeera.