President Trump and his administration will not get extra time to reunite families separated at the southern border because of his “zero tolerance” policy.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw rejected the administration’s request. She said that the department must comply with the July 10 deadline to reunite children under 5 years old with their parents, and July 26 for other children, according to the Associated Press.
The Justice Department had asked for an extension on the court-ordered deadlines, saying that it needed more time to match 101 under-5 children with their parents using DNA testing.
“The Government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunifications or burden class members,” the Justice Department argued in the filing. “At the same time, however, the Government has a strong interest in ensuring that any release of a child from Government custody occurs in a manner that ensures the safety of that child.”
Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian said that the administration has so far matched 83 children to 86 parents.
“There’s always going to be tension between a fast release and a safe release,” she said.
The judge said that an extension may be permissible in some cases. She ordered the Trump administration to give a list of the 101 children to the American Civil Liberties Union. They originally sued to force reunification, so now the two sides can determine which cases need more time.
“The government must reunite them,” Sabraw said. “It must comply with the time frame unless there is an articulable reason.”
More than 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute more people crossing the border illegally.
The president signed an executive order last month so that the separations would be stopped at the border. His administration still faces criticism for not moving quickly enough to reunited families.