When the Trump administration ended the family separation policy last year, they didn’t entirely end it. There were still cases where separations took place for a variety of necessary reasons. This prompted the usual outrage from the ACLU, leading them to challenge the enforcement rules in court and obtain an initial, temporary injunction from a judge in California. Now the court-ordered review has been completed and the same judge has found that the government is acting within its authority in this matter. (Reuters)
A federal judge has ruled that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is acting within its authority when it comes to separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border without any violation of the “rights to family integrity”.
“…. the Court finds Defendants are generally exercising their discretion to separate families at the border consistent with Plaintiffs’ rights to family integrity and the Court’s orders..”, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego said in a 26-page decision.
In July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had claimed that the government was separating families, making exceptions to its pledge to end the practice.
Judge Sabraw, a Bush 43 appointee, seems to have walked a fine line here in identifying when and how the so-called “right to family integrity” can be set aside. The ACLU didn’t put out much in the way of a response to losing the case aside from saying that they are “examining all options” available to them.
When families show up at the border, looking to either illegally cross into our country or request asylum, they are currently supposed to await their hearings and final determinations in Mexico under this administration’s Remain in Mexico policy. (Which has also been upheld in the courts.) But there are exceptions, as noted above.
In one of the more common situations that the ACLU objected to, migrants arrive at the border with children who are suspected of not being their own. These children could be victims of human trafficking or simply kids who were snatched by migrants who are trying to use the family separation policy to their advantage. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt is quoted as saying 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.”
Well… obviously. But who on Earth wouldn’t want to see the situation investigated if credible doubt exists about the identity of the child’s alleged “parent” in such cases? That’s rather close to arguing in favor of human trafficking, isn’t it?
Other situations where family separation is allowable arise if one of the adults is found to have a criminal record of if any of the family members display symptoms of communicable diseases. As the judge pointed out, all of these complicated scenarios require the government to exercise discretion as to whether or not the families remain together or are separated.
How many more times are we going to see this drama play out? Trump’s opponents complain about his immigration policies and shop around to find a court that will agree with them. The White House appeals the decision and a judge (or in some cases the Supreme Court) eventually lifts the injunction and we return to business as usual. Of course, there is a way we could cut way down on all of these scenarios if the will existed. How about we just finish building the darned wall and get control of who is going back and forth across the border in an orderly fashion? I know… crazy idea, right?