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Judge orders a halt to reunited immigrant family deportations

Many Arizona residents were shocked to learn that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents at the Mexican border, and they may have been relieved when a national backlash prompted the Trump administration to abandon the controversial policy. However, a new outcry ensued when it emerged that reunited immigrant families were being deported without delay.

The American Civil Liberties Union responded by mounting a legal challenge to the deportation policy. The nonprofit organization argued that under U.S. immigration law, reunited immigrant families should be given time to consider pursing asylum in the United States before being returned to their home countries. On July 16, a federal judge in California was swayed by this argument and issued an order that temporarily halts immediate deportations. Attorneys representing the federal government and the ACLU were then given a week to file a response to the order. The judge will make a permanent ruling after considering these responses.

The judge was also critical of the efforts being made to reunite immigrant families, and he ordered the government's attorneys to discuss these issues with the ACLU. He even went as far as accusing the Department of Health and Human Services of misunderstanding or defying court orders. The judge's ire may have been raised by media accounts of parents being left at bus stops with their children or being turned away when they showed up for reunification appointments.

The lengthy and complicated immigration process can be daunting to those fleeing persecution in their home countries, but U.S. immigration law allows individuals in such situations to petition for asylum in the United States. Attorneys with experience in this area could advocate on behalf of those seeking refuge in America and help them to gather the evidence they will need to establish that they are fleeing a legitimate threat.

Source: Splinter, "Trump Administration Ordered to Halt Deportations of Recently Reunited Families", Rafi Schwartz, July 16, 2018

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