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Judge orders U.S. to reunite families, stop border separations

Image: Immigrants
People line up to enter the central bus station in McAllen, Texas, after having been processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on June 24, 2018. Copyright David J. Phillip AP
Copyright David J. Phillip AP
By Alex Johnson with NBC News U.S. News
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The judge blamed the "chaotic circumstance of the government's own making" for the turmoil surrounding the separation of migrant children from their parents.


A federal judge in San Diego ordered immigration agents on Tuesday to stop separating migrant parents and children who have crossed the border from Mexico and to work to reunite families that have already been split up while in custody.

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by an anonymous woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo and backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which was expanded to become a class action as U.S. authorities began a "zero tolerance" policy in early May.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order to end the family separations last Wednesday, but the government has yet to reunite about 2,000 children with their parents.

The injunction orders immigration agents to stop separating parents and children, to reunify families with children under age 5 within 14 days and to reunify families with children 5 years old and older within 30 days. Sabraw ordered the government to let parents speak with their children by telephone within 10 days.

"The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the Government's own making," he wrote. "They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution."

Sabraw, who was appointed to the district court by President George W. Bush, had said in easrlier proceedings in the case that the government's policy "tears at the sacred bond between parent and child."

This is a developing story. Refresh this page for updates.

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