U.S. attorney general issues order to speed up immigrant deportations

Women from the Dominican Republic are apprehended by the border patrol for illegally crossing into the U.S. border from Mexico in Los Ebanos, Texas, U.S., August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday sought to speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants, telling immigration judges they should only postpone cases in removal proceedings “for good cause shown.”

Sessions, in an interim order that was criticized by some lawyers, said the “good-cause” standard “limits the discretion of immigration judges and prohibits them from granting continuances for any reason or no reason at all.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes part in a Federal Commission on School Safety meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes part in a Federal Commission on School Safety meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Unlike the federal judiciary system, U.S. immigration courts fall under the Department of Justice and the attorney general can intervene. Sessions, a Republican former U.S. Senator appointed by President Donald Trump, has been unusually active in this practice compared to his predecessors.

Sessions has led efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant parents from their children while they were in U.S. detention. Trump abandoned the separation policy in June under political pressure.

Critical in showing “good cause” is whether a person is likely to succeed in efforts to remain in the United States, either by appealing for asylum or receiving some form of visa or work permit, Sessions said on Thursday.

Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU immigrants rights project, described Sessions’ order as “troubling” and one of a series that “has moved in the direction of restricting due process rights for individuals who are in removal proceedings.”

Kang said Sessions seemed to portray immigrants seeking more time to prepare their cases as trying to “game the system and avoid deportation.”

Kang said removal proceedings were complex and people needed time “both to get lawyers to ensure that their due process rights are protected and time just to make sure their cases get a fair hearing.”

The Justice Department has been struggling to reduce a backlog of deportation cases. An analysis by the Government Accountability Office last year found the number of cases that drag on from one year to the next more than doubled between 2006 and 2015, mainly because fewer cases are completed per year.

Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said more immigration judges had been hired, but “unnecessary and improper continuances … continue to plague the immigration court system and contribute to the backlog.”

Sessions said on Thursday that the “use of continuances as a dilatory tactic is particularly pernicious in the immigration context” because people in the country illegally who want to remain have an incentive to delay their deportation as long as possible.

Granting continuances solely for good cause would be an “important check on immigration judges’ authority” and demonstrate public interest in “expeditious enforcement of the immigration laws,” Sessions said.

(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)

New Mexico compound member in U.S. illegally over 20 years: government

A view of the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay

TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) – A Haitian woman who was charged with child abuse at a New Mexico compound has been taken into custody by immigration authorities after living in the United States illegally for over 20 years, federal officials said on Wednesday.

Jany Leveille, 35, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Taos County on Tuesday and must appear before a judge to resolve her immigration status, according to a statement by ICE.

The immigration proceeding, which could lead to Leveille’s deportation, follows a raid on the compound Aug. 3 in which police said they found 11 children living in dirty conditions with no food or water. Three days later, police unearthed the body of a toddler at the ramshackle settlement north of Taos.

“Leveille has been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 20 years after overstaying the validity of her non-immigrant visitor visa,” an ICE statement said.

Kelly Golightley, Leveille’s lawyer, declined comment.

Leveille moved to Brooklyn from Haiti in 1998 after their father died, according to her brother Von Chelet Leveille. She then moved several times between Georgia, Philadelphia and New York, following her separation from her first husband, Von Chelet Leveille said in a phone interview from Haiti.

Leveille had lived at the compound near Amalia, New Mexico since January with her husband Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and children, according to prosecutors. Her six children range in age between 1 and 15, her brother said.

Leveille, Ibn Wahhaj and three other adults at the compound were charged with child abuse on Aug. 8 and their 11 children were taken into protective custody.

The body found at the compound is believed to be that of Ibn Wahhaj’s severely ill 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. Ibn Wahhaj is accused of abducting the boy from a second wife in Georgia in December. Prosecutors allege the boy later died as Ibn Wahhaj carried out a faith-healing ritual on him at the compound.

Prosecutors have accused Ibn Wahhaj of leading firearms training of two teenage boys at the compound to carry out attacks on schools, banks, and police.

Lawyers for the five defendants say they are being discriminated against because they are black Muslims who practiced faith healing and taught their children how to shoot. Neighbors and relatives dispute allegations the children were starving.

A district judge received death threats on Tuesday after she granted bail to the defendants.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker)

Trump threatens U.S. government shutdown over border wall

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats do not fund his border wall and back immigration law changes, betting that maintaining a hard line will work in Republicans’ favor in November congressional elections.

However, a disruption in federal government operations could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.

Americans are divided along party lines on immigration, and 81 percent of Republicans approved Trump’s handling of the issue, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this month.

The Republican president has threatened a shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get immigration priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border. Trump has asked for $25 billion to build the wall.

“I don’t think it would be helpful, so let’s try to avoid it,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Congress must agree on a spending measure to fund the government by a Sept. 30 deadline.

Although Republicans control both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix.

Standoffs over spending levels and immigration led to a three-day government shutdown, mostly over a weekend, in January and an hours-long shutdown in February.

The House in June rejected an immigration bill favored by conservative Republicans.

The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A federal judge on Friday urged the U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents whose children remain in the United States.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

U.S. court order ‘buys time’ for separated immigrant families: lawyers

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for immigrant families separated by the U.S. government at the border with Mexico said a federal judge’s order barring rapid deportations until at least next Tuesday would give them breathing room as they struggled for access to clients.

The families had been separated amid a broader crackdown on illegal immigration by President Donald Trump’s administration, sparking an international outcry and a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The president ordered that the practice be halted on June 20.

Judge Dana Sabraw, in Monday’s order, sided with the ACLU, which argued that parents facing imminent deportation should have a week to decide if they want to leave their children in the United States to pursue asylum separately.

Sabraw asked the government to respond before the next hearing on July 24. Until then, he halted rapid deportations.

The judge’s order gave lawyers more time to “figure out what reunification is going to mean for our clients,” said Beth Krause, a supervising lawyer at the New York-based Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Project.

In a related ruling in a separate case on Tuesday, the Legal Aid Society won a temporary court order barring the government from moving any of the dozens of separated migrant children the group represents in New York without at least 48 hours’ notice.

The order also required the government to say ahead if children were being moved so that they could be released, detained with their families, or deported.

Legal Aid had asked for an emergency injunction, arguing that the government was swiftly moving children and parents without giving them time to speak to lawyers about the possible legal consequences, including removal from the country.

At least two of its young clients had been due to be moved to a detention center in Texas that was not licensed to care for children, the group said, and other children were due to be moved to undisclosed locations.

“This information is crucial for our clients – many young children who already suffered enough trauma – to make informed decisions about pursuing asylum or other forms of relief,” Adrienne Holder, the lead lawyer at Legal Aid’s civil practice, said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan said the order expired on Thursday unless extended or modified by another judge, and that it applied only to Legal Aid’s clients and not to all separated children.

A hearing in the Manhattan case has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman.

Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said Judge Sabraw’s broader ban on rapid deportations “buys us a little bit of time.”

“I am still uncertain we have made contact with all the parents who are detained in our particular region,” he said.

Baron’s group has secured legal representation for several dozen separated parents sent to government detention centers in Washington state. But even on Monday, he said, he learned of an immigrant mother who had yet to make contact with a lawyer.

“She might have slipped through the cracks,” without the judge’s order, Baron said.

Last month, Sabraw set a July 26 deadline for the government to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the border with Mexico. Many of the immigrants are fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O’Brien)

Judge to hear how U.S. plans to reunite immigrant families

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Lawyers for the U.S. government will return to a San Diego courtroom on Monday to update a judge about Trump administration plans for meeting a July 26 deadline to reunite as many as 2,500 immigrant children with their parents after separating them at the U.S.-Mexican border.

The hearing before U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw will be the first since the judge chastised the government on Friday for asserting that pressure from the court to expedite reunifications could put children at risk.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has custody of the children, has since submitted a fuller plan for reuniting families by the deadline.

The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties union to challenge a policy of President Donald Trump’s administration to separate families as part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration. The president ordered the practice stopped on June 20 after widespread public outcry.

Many of the immigrants separated from their children were seeking asylum after fleeing violence and crime in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Children were sent to multiple care facilities across the country, and their parents were incarcerated in immigration detention centers or federal prisons.

Sabraw ordered that children should be returned to their parents and is overseeing the process.

The government failed to meet its first court-imposed deadline of July 6 for reuniting all children under 5 with their families, about 100 in total. With virtually all of the approximately 60 children under 5 deemed eligible for reunification now back with their families, attention has turned to those aged 5 to 17.

A government plan filed with the court on Sunday calls for the Health Department to move the children to eight locations operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in coming days, possibly requiring round-the-clock hours, according to an operation plan submitted to the judge.

ICE and the Office of Refugee Resettlement will verify parentage and screen adults to weed out those with serious criminal backgrounds or other issues that could endanger children.

Once verification is complete, parents and children will be reunited.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Judge to weigh new rules as U.S. works to reunite migrant families

Children are escorted to the Cayuga Center, which provides foster care and other services to immigrant children separated from their families, in New York City, U.S., July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday will consider imposing tougher rules on the U.S. government to ensure it reunites as many as 2,000 immigrant children with their parents by July 26.

In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered the government in June to reunite families that had been separated after crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. The government failed to meet a Tuesday deadline for reuniting an initial group of children under 5.

About 46 of the 103 children remain separated because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, according to court documents.

The government has said its efforts to reunite families were slowed by the need to conduct DNA testing and criminal background checks on parents and determine if they would provide a safe environment for the child.

That has raised questions how the government will manage with the vastly larger number of children it still must reunite, a task the judge has called a “significant undertaking.”

Late Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit that led to Sabraw’s order, said it wanted the judge to impose timelines on the government for background checks and to share information sooner in the process.

The rights group said that a lack of information about where and when reunions would happen had led to potential dangers for families. In one case, the ACLU said, immigration officials reunited a mother with her 6-month-old daughter then dropped them alone at bus stop late at night.

Sabraw will consider imposing those requirements on the government at a hearing on Friday at 1 p.m. PDT (2000 GMT) in San Diego.

The government adopted its family separation policy as part of a broader effort to discourage illegal immigration earlier this year. The Trump administration buckled to intense political pressure and abandoned the policy in June.

(Reporting by Tom Hals; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

U.S. seeks court guidance on deadlines to reunite migrant families

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The U.S. government is seeking guidance from a federal court over its efforts to reunite migrant parents and their children before court-imposed deadlines, after the administration separated the families for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

In a filing overnight, U.S. Department of Justice officials asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of California for more details about procedures to reunite migrant families, saying in some cases the government may need additional time.

The separations have sparked a fierce outcry and numerous protests, part of a political firestorm over U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and beefed-up efforts to deter illegal U.S. entry.

The Trump administration had implemented the separation policy as part of stepped-up efforts to deter immigrants from crossing the U.S. border from Mexico.

But it reversed course last month amid a groundswell of global opposition and said it would keep families together if possible.

U.S. officials are now rushing to reunite more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the border after the court in San Diego ordered the government last month to halt the practice.

Democrats and even some allies of the Republican president as well as foreign leaders and the Pope have condemned the separations, and protests continued over the weekend in cities across America over the issue.

Advocacy groups including the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, have questioned the government’s contention it may need more time to safely reunite families, and have raised concerns about whether it has a comprehensive plan to bring families together.

The U.S. government is scheduled to update the federal judge in the San Diego case on the reunification process later on Friday.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw last month ordered that children under 5 years old be reunited with their parents by July 10, and for all children to be reunited by July 26. He also ordered that parents have phone contact with their children by Friday.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters there were now “under 3,000” children in HHS care, including about 100 under the age of 5.

Azar said the U.S. government was relocating parents of children under 5 years old to detention facilities close to their children to help speed up family reunification.

The government, in its filing overnight, said the process could further be delayed by steps that were required before parents could be reconnected with their children, according to its interpretation of the court order: DNA testing to verify parentage, a criminal history check, and assurance that parents could provide for the child’s physical and mental well being.

As a result, some cases may require more time than allotted by the court, officials said, asking the court for guidance.

“HHS anticipates, however, in some instances it will not be able to complete the additional processes within the timelines the Court prescribed, particularly with regard to class members who are already not in Government custody,” they wrote.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Man arrested for starting Colorado wildfire burning over 38,000 acres

Flames rise past a ridge during efforts to contain the Spring Creek Fire in Costilla County, Colorado, U.S. June 27, 2018. Costilla County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

TAOS, New Mexico (Reuters) – A man was arrested on Saturday on charges of starting a forest fire in Colorado that has destroyed structures and forced hundreds to evacuate their homes in one of dozens of wildfires raging across the drought-hit U.S. southwest.

Jesper Joergensen, 52, was taken into custody for suspected arson that started the Springs Fire, the most active of around 10 blazes in Colorado, the state hardest hit by fires, according to Costilla County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Joergensen is not a U.S. citizen and will be handed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement once he has faced arson charges, said a Costilla County detention officer. The officer could not immediately say what nationality Joergensen held.

The fire has scorched over 38,000 acres (15,378 hectares) between the towns of Fort Garland and La Veta in southern Colorado, forcing more mandatory evacuations of homes and ranches on Saturday in a mountainous area of public and private land. The fire continued to grow, fueled by temperatures in the mid 80s Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) and had zero percent containment as of Saturday afternoon.

Air tankers and helicopters dropped fire retardant and water on the blaze. Authorities asked evacuated residents not to fly drones to check on their properties as the devices posed a danger to aircraft and would force them to be grounded.

An unknown number of structures were consumed by the fire, said Bethany Urban, a public information officer. No injuries have been reported.

Gusty winds, single-digit humidity and hot temperatures have fueled the fires and could ignite new blazes in the U.S. West, the National Weather Service said in several warnings.

The largest wildfire in Colorado, the 416 Fire, has charred almost 47,000 acres about 13 miles (21 km) north of Durango in the southwest corner of the state, and is 37 percent contained, said public information officer Brandalyn Vonk.

About 10 smaller wildfires were burning in New Mexico and three in Arizona, with much of the two states suffering extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

All but the northeastern corner of Colorado is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Grant McCool)

Protestors, lawmaker arrested in Senate building sit-in over immigration

Immigration activists wrapped in silver blankets, symbolising immigrant children that were seen in similar blankets at a U.S.-Mexico border detention facility in Texas, protest inside the Hart Senate Office Building after marching to Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some 600 protesters were arrested during a clangorous occupation of a U.S. Senate office building in Washington on Thursday, where they decried U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero- tolerance” stance on illegal immigration.

The protesters, mostly women dressed in white, sat on the Hart Senate Office Building’s marbled floors and wrapped themselves in metallic silver blankets similar to those given to migrant children separated from their families by U.S. immigration officials.

Their chant “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here” echoed through the building, drawing scores of Senate staff to upper mezzanine floors from where they watched the commotion.

Capitol Police warned protestors that if they did not leave the building they would be arrested. Soon after, protesters were lined against a wall in small groups and police confiscated their blankets and signs.

U.S. Capitol Police direct U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to stand for arrest as she joined demonstrators calling for "an end to family detention" and in opposition to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Capitol Police direct U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to stand for arrest as she joined demonstrators calling for “an end to family detention” and in opposition to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

It took police about 90 minutes to arrest them and end the demonstration. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, sat with the protesters and was also arrested.

Capitol Police said in a statement that about 575 people were charged with unlawfully demonstrating and they would be processed at the scene and released. They said people who were charged and fined could pay 24 hours after their arrests, but it was not clear who had been fined and how much.

Democratic senators Mazie Hirono, Tammy Duckworth, Kirsten Gillibrand and Jeff Merkley, who have been critical of Trump’s immigration policies, spoke with some of the protesters. Gillibrand held a sign that read: “End Detentions Now.”

Women’s March, a movement that began in the United States when Trump was inaugurated in 2017 and spread around the world, had called on women to risk arrest at Thursday’s protest.

Organizers said in a statement that 630 women were arrested during the protest.

“We are rising up to demand an end to the criminalization of immigrants,” Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, said in the statement.

Before arriving at Capitol Hill, the protesters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, pausing to chant “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at the Trump International Hotel.

The Women’s March demonstration is part of a wave of actions against Trump, whose administration began seeking in May to prosecute all adults who cross the border without authorization.

More than 2,000 children who arrived illegally in the United States with adult relatives were separated from them and placed in detention facilities or with foster families around the United States.

The policy led to intense criticism in the United States and abroad, and Trump signed an executive order that would let children stay with their parents as they moved through the legal system, drawing renewed criticism.

Loretta Fudoli took a bus to Washington from Conway, Arkansas, to join Thursday’s protest. She said she had been arrested at demonstrations three or four times since she became politically active after Trump’s election.

“Their parents shouldn’t even be locked up,” Fudoli said. “This is not a bad enough crime to lock them up and take their children away.”

Most of the children separated from their families before the order was signed have not yet been reunited with them.

The White House has said that the order was not a long-term solution and has called for Congress to pass immigration reform.

Larger protests are being planned for Saturday in Washington, D.C., and cities around the country under the banner of #FamiliesBelongTogether.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Bill Tarrant and Jonathan Allen; Editing by David Gregorio, Toni Reinhold)

U.S. judge orders migrant families to be reunited

A Honduran family seeking asylum waits on the Mexican side of the Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge after being denied entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., June 26, 2018. Picture taken June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

By Jonathan Stempel and Doina Chiacu

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge has blocked the Trump administration from separating immigrant parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border, and ordered that those who were separated be reunited within 30 days.

The nationwide injunction issued late Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego will not be the final word on a heated battle over the treatment of immigrant families who cross the border illegally. A government appeal is likely.

Sabraw’s preliminary injunction also requires the government to reunite children under the age of five with their parents within 14 days, and let children talk with their parents within 10 days.

More than 2,300 migrant children were separated from their parents as a result of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that began in early May and sought to prosecute all adults crossing the border without authorization, including those traveling with children.

The separations sparked widespread condemnation in the United States, including from within President Donald Trump’s own Republican Party, and abroad.

Although Trump issued an executive order on June 20 to end the family separations, the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the San Diego case, said it contained “loopholes” and did little to fix the problem. Some 2,000 children remain separated.

Sabraw, an appointee of former Republican President George W. Bush, rebuked the administration.

“The facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making,” he wrote. “They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.”

The White House had no immediate comment.

LAYING BLAME

In opposing a preliminary injunction, the government had argued that Trump’s executive order “largely” addressed the concerns of the ACLU.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a Senate hearing earlier on Tuesday that most separated children could not be reunited until the Republican-led Congress passed necessary legislation.

He also laid blame for the problem on the families, saying that “if the parents didn’t bring them across illegally, this would never happen.”

The ACLU hailed Sabraw’s decision.

“This victory will be bring relief to all the parents and children who thought they may never see each other again,” ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said in an email. “It is a complete victory.”

Sabraw ruled several hours after 17 generally Democratic-leaning states and Washington, D.C. sued the Trump administration in Seattle federal court over the family separations, calling them “cruel” and motivated by “animus.”

LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION

After issuing his executive order, Trump called last week on Congress to pass legislation that addressed immigration issues. But although Republicans control Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix to the border crisis.

An immigration bill favored by conservative Republicans failed to pass the House last week. The House planned to vote on Wednesday on a broad immigration bill that would bar the separation of children from their parents at the southern border

In a Twitter post written in capital letters throughout, Trump said House Republicans should pass the bill, even though he said Democrats would stop it from passing in the Senate, where Republicans have a slimmer majority.

“PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS AND SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME,” the president wrote on Twitter.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday he would not rule out the possibility of bringing a vote on a narrower bill addressing only the detention of immigrant families, if the broader bill did not pass.

The ACLU had sued on behalf of a mother and her then 6-year-old daughter, who were separated for four months after entering the country to seek asylum and flee religious persecution in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ACLU case is Ms. L et al v U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, No. 18-00428.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Alison Frankel in New York; Yasmeen Abutaleb and Doina Chiacu in Washington, D.C.; Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Frances Kerry)