10:34, July 11 249 0 abajournal.com

2018-07-11 10:34:04
Hundreds of reunited immigrant families released with ankle monitors; US seeks waiver for detention

The Trump administration is releasing hundreds of reunited immigrant families with ankle monitors, and has at least temporarily stopped criminal prosecutions of immigrants who enter the country with their children.

The decision to release the families comes as the administration faces court decisions requiring reunification of immigrant families and requiring the release of children from detention within 20 days, the New York Times reports.

The government began reunifying children under the age of 5 with their parents on Tuesday, as required by a court order in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. Some children did not recognize their parents, according to the Times.

Matthew Albence, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations, outlined the new policy when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday. Parents with “children under the age of 5 are being reunited with their children and then released and enrolled into an alternative detention program” requiring ankle bracelets, he said.

A Justice Department lawyer had told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of San Diego on Monday that it expected to reunite at least 54 immigrant children under the age of 5 with their parents by Sabraw’s Tuesday deadline. On Tuesday, however, the government expected there would be only 38 reunions out of 102 families with children under the age of 5. Sabraw has set a second, July 26 deadline for the reunification of families over the age of 5.

Despite the government’s inability to fully comply with the deadline, Sabraw refused to modify his deadlines, according to a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union and coverage by the Times and Courthouse News Service. “These are firm deadlines; they’re not aspirational goals,” Sabraw said. The case is Ms. L v. ICE.

Sabraw said the government should streamline the reunification process, and should not use DNA tests to determine parentage unless documents were not available.

Sabraw said he would consider a government motion to let parents decide whether their children should remain in detention with them, or be released to Health and Human Services where they can be held in licensed facilities. If he grants the motion, the government could stop releasing the immigrants.

That possibility was raised Monday when U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of Los Angeles refused to modify the so-called Flores settlement that requires children to be released from detention within 20 days to the least restrictive setting possible. Children who aren’t released to an adult must be in a licensed program.

Gee said in her decision that detained parents could waive their children’s rights under the Flores settlement if they wanted to choose reunification.