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Professor Richard Frankel Discusses Missed Deadline for Reuniting Families on Phoenix NPR Program

Professor Richard Frankel

July 27, 2018

With hundreds of immigrant families still separated after the Trump Administration missed a July 26 deadline for reuniting all of them, the federal judge handling the case has numerous but limited options, Professor Richard Frankel said in an interview with NPR affiliate KJZZ.

The administration said in court documents that more than 600 parents eligible for reunification with their children are still separated, according to published news reports.

Federal District Court Judge Dana Judge Sabraw “is serious about the deadline,” Frankel said during a July 26 interview of “The Show,” adding that the judge has indicated that he thinks the government is making a good faith effort to comply.  

“His power is a little bit limited in terms of being able to force the federal machinery to do something,” Frankel said, adding that the judge could appoint a monitor or empower private attorneys to oversee the reunification efforts. “He can put some sunshine on what’s going on and with that kind of exposure, if the government is lagging or not working hard, he can push them to comply faster.”

Sabraw has already issued an injunction preventing the government from deporting families that have not yet been reunited, Frankel observed, noting that the administration is fighting that order.

“If the government’s lagging in its compliance, the judge can extend that injunction,” Frankel said.

Though Sabraw could also find the government in contempt, Frankel said it’s unclear how that would help the separated families.

“It could take everybody’s focus away from the fact that there are families that are really suffering here,” Frankel said. “That’s what we really should be focusing on, getting them back together. I think Judge Sabraw’s going to be weighing all of those factors and deciding what the best course of action is.”

Frankel directs the Federal Litigation and Appeals Clinic, which has handled numerous cases involving immigration.