In a significant setback to the Trump Administration, a bid was recently lost to persuade a federal court to enable long-term detention of migrant families. The federal court in Los Angeles countered nearly every argument posed by the Justice Department, stating there was no basis to amend a longstanding consent decree requiring children to be released to licensed care programs within 20 days. The operation to reunite migrant children with jailed adults who crossed the border illegally is scheduled for Tuesday and is set to be carried out with an unusual level of secrecy under the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.
Despite President Trump’s efforts to end “catch-and-release” policies adopted by previous administrations for undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border, two court rulings pursued policy alternatives instead to achieve this goal. The court in San Diego effectively reversed the ruling after the attempt to jail illegal border crossers and hold their children in less-restricted facilities ordered in May led to a widespread outrage. In Los Angeles holding parents and children together for lengthy periods has now been ruled out. In preparation for families to reunite, most parents have already been transferred to detention facilities in the vicinity where their children are currently held. The court order requires all 3,000 children to be returned to their families before the end of the month. In response to the political pressure and public outrage, President Trump issued an executive order on June 20th ending separations.