- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2019

A federal judge ruled late Friday that perhaps thousands more illegal immigrant children may be subject to his earlier orders that the government find their parents and reunite the families.

Judge Dana Sabraw said he was going off of an audit by the Homeland Security inspector general that said children were separated from parents as far back as summer 2017, or well before the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy was officially announced last spring.

He ruled those children are now part of the class action lawsuit that he certified last year, involving more than 2,800 other children separated from parents around the time of the zero tolerance effort.

“The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders,” the judge wrote. “That defendants may have to change course and undertake additional effort to address these issues does not render modification of the class definition unfair; it only serves to underscore the unquestionable importance of the effort and why it is necessary (and worthwhile).”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the case for the families, said it could affect a large number of people.

“The court made clear that potentially thousands of children’s lives are at stake and that the Trump administration cannot simply ignore the devastation it has caused,” said Lee Gelernt, the lead ACLU attorney.

The Trump administration had argued that expanding the class would impose a major new — and perhaps impossible — burden.

The children in question had been discharged from government custody by the time Judge Sabraw got involved, and tracking them down now is likely to prove trying.

But the judge said at the least he can rule that the separation was illegal.

He delayed a ruling on what other actual steps the government must take.

One option would be to allow the parents to seek reunification, even if they’ve been deported.

Still, many parents who were separated and then deported have decided to leave their children in the U.S., hoping they can gain legal status here.

Those children are often living with other relatives, often times themselves here illegally.

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