The U.S. judge in California ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to pay the costs of reuniting immigrant parents with children separated from them by officials at the U.S.-Mexican border. The U.S. government is under pressure to reunite around 2,000 children with their parents, who were detained and separated as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach to deterring illegal immigration.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, said at a hearing in San Diego, “It doesn’t make any sense for any of the parents who have been separated to pay for anything”.
One parent was initially asked to pay $1,900 to be reunited with a child, according to ACLU court papers. The government missed a deadline this week for getting the youngest of the children back with their parents. Trump has made his hardline immigration policies a central part of his presidency. His administration adopted the family separation policy as part of its effort to discourage illegal immigration, but Trump bowed to intense political pressure and abandoned the policy on June 20.
Trump administration lawyer Sarah Fabian called the judge’s order on paying for the reunifications “a huge ask on HHS,” referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fabian said those decisions were handled at the field level, adding that HHS, which houses the detained children, had limited resources. The government’s filing did not say whether it intends to release families after reunification, deport them or keep them together in detention. The government said that it would intend to identify between six and eight locations where all reunifications will take place.
“The government will make it happen,” Sabraw responded.
In a filing with the court, HHS official Chris Meekins said, “the administration had streamlined its vetting procedures to comply with a July 10 court order, but that the swifter process could put children at risk”.