In separate cases, three federal judges ruled against the Trump administration’s immigration policies on Monday.
Judge Dana Sabraw heard reports on progress—and lack of progress—in reuniting 102 immigrant children under the age of five with their parents. He set the next reporting date for Tuesday, as all parties seemed to acknowledge that the government had not kept adequate records to make reunification possible for some of the children. Government lawyers said they cannot locate parents of 38 of these children. The government plans to allow about 50 children to reunite with their parents on Tuesday. The 30-day deadline for reuniting all of approximately 3,000 children taken from their parents remains in force.
Federal District Court Judge Dolly Gee refused the administration’s request to modify the Flores decree and allow indefinite detention of immigrant families. The Flores decree says that children cannot be held in detention longer than 20 days, before being released to licensed child care facilities. Judge Gee called the government’s motion “a cynical attempt” that came after “over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate.”
In a third case, U.S. District Judge John Mendez ruled against an administration challenge to California’s so-called sanctuary laws, allowing limits on local and state law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities to stand, and allowing California to exercise oversight of immigration detention facilities.
While losing in the courts and in Congress and in public opinion, the administration continues to implement ever more restrictive and punitive immigration policies. After slashing refugee admissions to historic lows this year, the administration is “sending signals” that next year’s quota will be even lower. At the same time that the United States is cutting refugee admissions, the number of refugees around the world has never been higher.
Refugees are not the same as the asylum seekers from Central America, explains Pew Research:
“Asylum seekers migrate and cross a border without having received prior legal permission to enter their destination country, and then apply for asylum. Resettled refugees, by contrast, don’t enter their destination country until they have legal permission to do so, because they apply for refugee status while in another country. The refugee approval process can take several months or years while destination countries complete security checks on prospective refugees.”
Asylum seekers continue to be turned away by U.S. immigration officials at ports of entry. At the San Ysidro border crossing, at least 2,000 asylum seekers wait to be allowed to tell their stories to U.S. officials. The Los Angeles Times reports a notebook kept “literally just at the whim of one person who has no accountability” lists their names, and their places in line.
The Texas Tribune found that “a number of asylum seekers who came to international bridges in Texas and California were separated from their children anyway — or were not able to cross the bridge at all after encountering armed Customs and Border Protection agents on the bridge.”
In another anti-immigrant move, the process for deportations has been streamlined, with directions to USCIS to initiate removal proceedings against anyone who fails in an attempt to adjust status or to get protection under the U-Visa (for crime victims), T-Visa (for human trafficking victims), or VAWA (Violence Against Women Act). The order to expand USCIS issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA) effectively makes that agency a third enforcement agency, along with ICE and CBP. Quartz offers several examples of the potential impact of the new NTA policy.