US immigration agents can no longer separate immigrant parents and children caught crossing the border from Mexico illegally and must work to reunite those families that had been split up in custody, a federal judge has ruled.
US district court judge Dana Sabraw on Tuesday granted the American Civil Liberties Union a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed over the family separations.
More than 2,300 migrant children were separated from their parents after the Trump administration began a “zero-tolerance” policy in early May, seeking to prosecute all adults who crossed the border illegally, including those travelling with children.
The ACLU had sued on behalf of a mother and her then six-year-old daughter, who were separated after arriving last November in the US to seek asylum and escape religious persecution in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While they were reunited in March, the ACLU is pursuing class-action claims on behalf of other immigrants.
The US president, Donald Trump, issued an executive order to end the family separations on 20 June, but the government has yet to reunite about 2,000 children with their parents.
Before the preliminary injunction ruling, the government urged Sabraw not to require that it stop separating and quickly reunite migrant families after they illegally cross the US-Mexico border, saying Trump’s executive order last week “largely” addressed those goals.