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Judge Order Government Find Separated Children at US-Mexico Border

U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.

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FILE - Christian, from Honduras, recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House,in El Paso, Texas, June 25, 2018. VOA

A U.S. judge Thursday appeared open to ordering the government to find potentially thousands of additional children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration, which could greatly expand the scope of a lawsuit challenging the separations.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego called a January report by an internal government watchdog that found the U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.”

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a report published earlier this year that the agency had identified many more children in addition to the 2,737 included as part of the class action lawsuit challenging family separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year.

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Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, July 17, 2018. Sabraw, who ordered children be reunited with their families after being separated at the US-Mexico border, may order the government to expand the scope of the reunifications. VOA

ACLU wants all families reunited

In response to the lawsuit, Sabraw ordered the families identified through a court process to be reunited with their children.

The ACLU has petitioned the judge to expand the class to force the government to do a full accounting of any additional separated children.

The premise of the class action lawsuit, Sabraw said, was the “overarching allegation of the unlawful separation” of families by the Trump administration.

“When there’s an allegation of wrong on this scale, one of the most fundamental obligations of law is to determine the scope of the wrong,” he said. “It is important to recognize we are talking about human beings.”

The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers, even those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year. The policy sparked outrage when it became public, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order reversing course June 20, 2018.

In light of the Inspector General’s findings, as well as investigative reporting, Sabraw said, the current June 26, 2018, cut-off date for cases to be part of the lawsuit becomes “very arbitrary.”

‘Other galaxy of a task’

Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart argued that the ACLU’s request to expand the class would blow the case into an “other galaxy of a task.” The government has argued in court papers that it is too labor intensive to find children who were separated and subsequently released to sponsors before the court order last year.

While most of the outrage last year focused on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, the government has continued to separate families on a smaller scale.

ALSO READ: Trump’s Idea to Siphon Money for Border Wall Meets Resistance

In a filing Wednesday, the government said it had separated 245 children at the border between June 26, 2018, and Feb. 5, 2019. The government said 92 percent of these children were separated because of “parent criminality, prosecution, gang affiliation, or other law enforcement purpose.”

Advocates say there is little transparency about the criteria and evidence used to justify ongoing separations. (VOA)

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Instagram Launches Beta Version if its in-app Shopping Feature in US

Instagram's plans on rolling out the feature globally remain unclear

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FILE - The Instagram icon is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. VOA

Facebook-owned photo messaging app Instagram has launched the beta version of its in-app shopping feature in the US that would allow over a billion users to buy products tagged in images or videos without having to leave the platform.

Called “Checkout with Instagram”, the feature would allow US users to shop from over 20 brands including Adidas, Kylie Cosmetics and Warby Parker, without re-directing users to other websites.

“We will introduce a selling fee to help fund programmes and products that help make checkout possible, as well as offset transaction-related expenses,” TechCrunch quoted an Instagram spokesperson as saying on Tuesday.

The photo-messaging app would charge sellers making sales an undisclosed amount of fee.

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“We aren’t sharing the specific number right now. We are testing a selling fee with businesses during the closed beta. It will not change the price of the items for consumers,” the spokesperson said.

Checkout tags would appear on feed posts, Stories and Explore content from the brands in the closed beta that Instagram plans to eventually open to more businesses.

Also Read- Apple Unveils New AirPods Designed to Deliver More Talk Time

For now, those who use Instagram’s shopping feature can pay with PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, the report added.

Instagram’s plans on rolling out the feature globally remain unclear. (IANS)