Judge mulls bid to curb power to split families at border
Added 09-21-19 12:03:01am EST - “A federal judge said Friday that he was struggling with a request to more narrowly define what behavior justifies separating children from their parents at the border after complaints that the Trump administration has abused discretionary…” - Washingtontimes.com
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SAN DIEGO (AP) - A federal judge said Friday that he was struggling with a request to more narrowly define what behavior justifies separating children from their parents at the border after complaints that the Trump administration has abused discretionary powers to split families under limited circumstances, like criminal history or questions about whether the adult is really the parent.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued the government has been separating families over dubious allegations and minor transgressions including traffic offenses. In a court filing, it reported one parent was separated for having damaged property valued at $5, and a 1-year-old was taken away after an official criticized her father for letting her sleep with a wet diaper.
Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart acknowledged some mistakes but said the government has a good system in place.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw called it a “thorny issue” and didn’t rule immediately on the ACLU’s request to intervene during a two-hour hearing, which is unusually long for him. He said a parent convicted of assault with a deadly weapon may be “the most loving, protective parent” and present no danger to the child, but is probably unfit to be held in a family immigration detention center.
The administration separated 955 children from their parents from June 26, 2018, when Sabraw halted the practice except in limited circumstances, to July 20, 2019. The government noted that it accounted for a tiny percentage of the more than 500,000 arrests and detentions of people who crossed the Mexican border in families during that time, suggesting restraint.
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