US judge temporarily halts deportation of reunited families

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San Diego, July 17 (IANS) A US district judge in California ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration must wait at least a week before deporting immigrant families reunited after being separated at the border under the “zero tolerance” policy.

Judge Dana Sabraw found in favour of a motion from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which said that it sought the injunction amid “persistent and increasing rumours that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification,” Efe news reported.

The ACLU wants parents to be given a week after being reunited with their children to decide whether to apply for asylum in the United States.

Sabraw’s ruling requires the government to suspend deportations until July 23 while he considers the ACLU brief and the Justice Department’s response.

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The Trump administration is still working to meet the July 26 deadline set by Sabraw for the return of nearly 3,000 children ages 5 and older who were taken from their parents at the border since the zero tolerance policy took effect in April.

The policy calls for criminally prosecuting anyone caught entering the US illegally, which represents a sharp break from past practice.

Last Tuesday, the deadline Sabraw established for the return to their parents of 103 children under the age of 5 saw the hand-over of only 57 youngsters.

The government cited safety concerns to explain its decision to not deliver the remaining 46 children on the list.

–IANS

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