A federal judge lambasted the Trump administration for its lack of a system for keeping track of migrant families separated at at the border, saying the government does a better job of monitoring the "personal property of detainees."
"The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings. Money, important documents, and automobiles, to name a few, are routinely catalogued, stored, tracked and produced upon a detainees' release, at all levels—state and federal, citizen and alien," US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw wrote in a court order halting most family separations Tuesday.
"Yet, the government has no system in place to keep track of, provide effective communication with, and promptly produce alien children," he continued. "The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process."
Sabraw wrote that family separations at the border approached "a crisis level," adding that it was "a startling reality" that the Trump administration would engage in such a practice while lacking "any effective system or procedure" for ensuring communication and reunification between separated families.
The California-based judge's order mandates that federal officials stop detaining parents apart from their minor children, absent a determination the parent is unfit or the parent declines reunification. The government must also reunify all parents with their minor children who are under the age of 5 within 14 days and reunify all parents with their minor children age 5 and older within 30 days.
The order also requires officials to provide parents contact with their children by phone within 10 days, if the parent is not already in contact with his or her child.
The order does not end the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of prosecuting those who cross the border illegally.