Judge orders U.S. to review asylum for separated migrant families

(Reuters) – A federal judge ordered the U.S. government on Thursday to begin processing asylum claims for dozens of migrant parents and children that had been separated at the southern border under the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy.

FILE PHOTO: Activists protest to denounce the separation of children from their families at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

The order directs the government to begin the process of reviewing asylum claims for about 60 detained parents and children, even if their claims had previously been denied.

Civil rights attorneys argued in court papers that the government was violating a September settlement agreement that had cleared the way for more than 1,000 immigrants separated by U.S. officials to have their asylum claims reconsidered. Department of Justice attorneys at the time promised the court the government would “get moving” on the agreement.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego rejected the government’s argument that it did not have to begin reconsidering asylum until the settlement was approved by the court. A hearing on the fairness of the settlement is scheduled for Nov. 15.

The settlement applied to about 2,500 children and their parents who were picked up after crossing the border and detained separately under the crackdown on illegal immigration under U.S. President Donald Trump, one of his signature policies. The administration abandoned family separations in June in the face of widespread condemnation.

On Thursday, Trump threatened to send the military to the border with Mexico to prevent thousands of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala from crossing into the United States from Mexico.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; editing by Bill Berkrot

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