The same judge who praised the Trump administration for its “collaborative” effort to reunite families separated at the border is now saying he’s having second thoughts about whether the government is acting in “good faith.”
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw criticized the administration late Friday evening, calling into question the safety of a new plan filed by the Department of Justice to reunite more than 2,500 children over the age of 5 by the July 26 deadline.
After Friday’s hearing, the DOJ filed a reunification plan that would meet the July 26 deadline via “truncated” procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks, which exclude DNA testing and other steps to reunify families of children under 5.
The administration said the abbreviated vetting puts children at significant safety risk but is needed to meet the deadline.
Chris Meekins, the deputy assistant health and human services secretary for preparedness and response, said that while he is committed to meeting the deadline, he does not believe “placing of children into such situations is consistent with the mission of HHS or my core values.”
Sabraw fired back, second-guessing remarks he’d made hours earlier.
“It is clear from Mr. Meekins’ declaration that HHS either does not understand the court’s orders or is acting in defiance of them. … At a minimum, it appears he is attempting to provide cover to defendants for their own conduct in the practice of family separation, and the lack of foresight and infrastructure necessary to remedy the harms caused by that practice.”
He said that the official’s statement “calls into question” his earlier comment that the government was acting in “good faith.” Sabraw said that safe reunification could and will occur by July 26.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.