Federal judge blocks separation of immigrant families at border

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 18:26:25-04

Migrant families being split up at the border caused outcry across the country. After President Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families, another order came down, that one from a federal judge, that blocks federal officials from separating children from their parents.  

A federal judge in California not only ordered on Tuesday that the separation of families stop, but also that all split up migrant families be reunited within a month. 

That will mean some fast changes for separated families in South Texas, but some worry there will still be challenges with the reunion process. 

Diana Tafur hears many stories about immigrant children being pulled away from their families. She is one of the local immigration attorneys that works with migrant children in detention facilities. 

"It’s heartbreaking, children waking up to their parents being gone," Tafur, Senior Immigration Attorney at RAICES, said. 

Now that policy of separating families is temporarily blocked, due to a federal judge’s ruling in response to an American Civil Liberties Union case.

The ruling prohibits the separation of immigrant children from their parents, unless a parent is deemed unfit. It also requires the government to reunite all children with their parents within 30 days, and within 14 days for kids under the age of five. 

Tafur says as families are reunited, it will make a big difference for immigrants that are moving forward with their legal cases.

"Separating children from their parents also makes it really difficult for these individuals to proceed with their immigration case, because of lack of access to legal counsel, and because of the overwhelming burden that’s placed on both to access witnesses," she said. 

However some fear as this process plays out, there will still be problems with reuniting split up migrant families.

"You still have over 2,000 children, we’ll see how quickly the government acts," Eddie Canales, Director of the South Texas Human Rights Center, said. "How are you going to reunite kids if you already have parents deported? That’s a monunmental task."

The judge’s order does not mean the government must stop prosecuting people who cross the border illegally.