(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge must lift his order requiring the Trump administration to reunify immigrant families separated after they illegally crossed the Mexican border because it endangers national security, a White House spokeswoman said.
“The injunction must be removed immediately or we can’t keep the country safe,” Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters aboard Air Force One.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw on Tuesday ordered the Trump administration to return immigrant children younger than five to their parents within two weeks. Children five and older must be reunited within 30 days. He also ordered the government to provide for communications between detained caregivers and their children and not to deport adults without their kids.
President Donald Trump ordered his administration last week to stop separating families at the border and to reunify children already placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Public outrage over the separations has led to bipartisan criticism in Congress, where lawmakers are struggling to craft immigration legislation.
The separations resulted from a border enforcement policy called “zero tolerance” announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April. Under the strategy, all adults apprehended after crossing the border are arrested and prosecuted for the crime, a misdemeanor. That led to the removal of children accompanying them.
Sabraw ruled in favor of a Catholic citizen of the Democratic Republican of the Congo who fled her country claiming persecution for her religious beliefs. Identified only as Ms. L, she and her six-year-old daughter lawfully petitioned for asylum at San Ysidro, California. She alleges her daughter was taken from her after they were placed in detention while authorities considered her asylum claim.
The daughter was placed in a detention center in Chicago. The government has yet to appeal Sabraw’s order.
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