On June 20, Donald J. Trump attempted to fix a problem by signing an executive order to cease the separation of immigrant children from their parents. However, the ACLU believes that the new mandate contains too many loopholes and has filed an injunction with the U.S. District Court in San Diego. The organization wants to ensure that the welfare of immigrant families is better protected.
Reuters reported that over 2,300 children have been separated from their parents in the last two months and that the recent Trump order does not make provisions for tracking and a timeline for reuniting families. The ACLU lawsuit asks that reunification will occur within a 30-day period following separation.
“The government’s existing ‘reunification’ process is not designed to address the current crisis,” the ACLU lawsuit reads.
The only exceptions to the 30-day deadline would include cases where parents are deemed unfit to care for their children and/or cases where the parents are being housed in adult-only criminal detention centers. Otherwise, reuniting the families should happen as quickly as possible.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ruled on June 6 that the original Trump immigration mandate was a possible violation of due process. He also expressed concerns about the effects that forced separations had on both the children and their parents. Sabraw called the bond between parents and their children “sacred” and a potential violation of fair treatment under the law.
“Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency,” Sabraw wrote.
The Washington Post reported on the effects that separation has on children. In the article, Harvard Medical School pediatrics professor Charles Nelson said that the research conducted on the subject is extensive. If decision-makers were made aware of the psychological damage that the practice has on children, Nelson said that they would find another way to handle the detention of immigrant families.
“The effect is catastrophic,” Nelson told The Post. “There’s so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this.”
A petition signed by over 7,700 medical professionals calling for an end to the practice cites the adverse effect that separation has on childhood development, their mental health, and the long-term trauma. The ACLU’s lawsuit is a class-action. Sabraw has recommended that the government rule on the injunction early Tuesday as opposed to the originally scheduled docket on Wednesday.