A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. border authorities to reunite separated families within 30 days, setting a hard deadline in a process that has so far yielded uncertainty about when children might again see their parents. If children are younger than 5, they must be reunified within 14 days of the order issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego.
Sabraw, an appointee of President George W. Bush, also issued a nationwide injunction on future family separations, unless the parent is deemed unfit or doesn't want to be with the child. It also requires the government to provide phone contact between parents and their children within 10 days.
HHS says 2,047 separated children still in custody, won't say whether still receiving kids
More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks and placed in government-contracted shelters - hundreds of miles away, in some cases - under a now-abandoned policy toward families caught illegally entering the U.S.
The lawsuit in San Diego involves a 7-year-old girl who was separated from her Congolese mother and a 14-year-old boy who was separated from his Brazilian mother.
Amid an international outcry, President Trump last week issued an executive order to stop the separation of families and said parents and children will instead be detained together. But so far, relatively few families have been reunited, and the Trump administration has disclosed almost no information on how the process will be carried out or how long it will take.
Officials on Tuesday wouldn't say whether the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is still receiving children as a result of the child separation policy. When pressed about the issue by reporters on a conference all, they didn't answer the question.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.