CASE UPDATE: Judge Issues Order Siding with State AGs in Lawsuit Challenging Family Separation Policy

July 20, 2018 | Topic: Rights

AG Shapiro: “The government has a responsibility to reunite these families… and we will hold them accountable until they do.”

HARRISBURG — In a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 16 other Attorneys General, challenging the Trump administration’s family separation policy on the U.S. southern border, a federal court judge has issued a strong order granting expedited discovery and weekly status updates to ensure the federal government is providing information about its policy in a timely manner.

“The Trump Administration has a responsibility to reunite families that they separated in the first place,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The administration has now been ordered in federal court to provide detailed information on the status of these families in a timely way. The harm being done to these children must end, and I’m going to keep fighting on these issues to protect and reunite these families.  Congress needs to act.  We need comprehensive immigration reform, but let’s stop using these children as pawns.”

The order by Judge Marsha Pechman notes that since the federal government has already been ordered to identify, locate and reunite these separated families in a separate lawsuit, this order simply requires those authorities to share that information with the states that filed the lawsuit.  The order holds that “the kind of family separations currently being implemented by the Government are proven to cause immediate and extensive psychological harm to both children and parents; the damage is only worsened with the passage of time.”

In another part of her order, the judge noted, “Plaintiffs’ position is that any burden on the Government imposed by this accelerated schedule is “trivial” compared to the harms being inflicted on the parents and children who are impacted by the current situation. The Court is inclined to agree.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges the administration’s family separation policy violates the fundamental due process rights of parents to be together with their children, as well as other constitutional and statutory claims.

In Pennsylvania, the federal government has housed child immigrants in Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley as part of its familyseparation policy. In Pittsburgh, children are being housed at the Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, a Catholic social services organization under contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Department of Health and Human Services. The children, who are between the ages of four and 17, are from countries including Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

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