A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government must provide mental health services to the thousands of migrant parents and children who were separated at the southern border.
In a ruling late Tuesday, Judge John Kronstadt of the United States District Court in Los Angeles found the Trump administration responsible for the mental trauma caused by separating illegal alien families, according to a report from the New York Times. Kronstadt issued a preliminary injunction, ordering the administration to make available mental health services for those who experienced forced separation.
Psychological counseling and mental health screenings are among the services that must be provided by the Trump administration. These services — likely to be provided for a long period of time — are expected to be an expensive undertaking by the government, given the large number of illegal aliens who were subjected to separation.
“This is truly groundbreaking,” the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky, said to the Times about the ruling. “The court is recognizing that when a government creates a danger that inflicts trauma, the government is responsible for providing a solution. It is not something I have seen a court do before.”
The ruling was brought on by a class action lawsuit by three refugee mothers who were separated from their children upon their arrival at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Kronstadt’s preliminary injunction also marks the latest development since the Trump administration introduced, and then quickly ended, its most controversial immigration enforcement policy.
Faced with a rising number of illegal aliens appearing before the U.S.-Mexico border, then-Attorney General Sessions introduced a “zero tolerance” policy in April 2018, which directed attorneys at the southern border to dramatically increase its prosecution of illegal border crossers. As a result, criminal charges climbed dramatically as a higher number of migrant parents also faced prosecution.
However, a consequence to the “zero tolerance” measure was that more migrant families began to be separated as adults were placed into detention while their children were transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services. A massive media backlash ensued, prompting President Donald Trump to nix the policy by executive order in June 2018 by way of executive order.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in June 2018 estimated that around 3,000 alien children were likely separated upon arrival at the U.S. southern border, a higher number than previously expected.
Kronstadt — who was nominated to his position by former President Barack Obama — ultimately found that the government can be deemed liable of “deliberate indifference” if they place individuals in dangerous situations. The decision marks the latest ruling against the administration’s immigration agenda at the hands of Obama-appointed judges, highlighting the influence of the judicial branch in the fight over immigration enforcement.
Nevertheless, the White House is expected to appeal the latest ruling.
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