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Judge Orders Release of Boy Separated From Mom

9-year-old has spent 4 weeks in government-contracted shelter
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 28, 2018 3:48 PM CDT
During an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Evanston, Illinois, Lidia Karine Souza, who is seeking asylum from Brazil, sheds a tear as she talks about the ordeal she has...   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(Newser) – A federal judge in Chicago on Thursday ordered the immediate release from detention of a 9-year-old Brazilian boy who was separated from his mother at the US-Mexico border, the AP reports. Judge Manish Shah said Lidia Karine Souza can have custody of her son, Diogo, who has spent four weeks at a government-contracted shelter in Chicago. The mother, who has applied for asylum, was released from an immigrant detention facility in Texas on June 9. The decision came two days after a different judge ordered the government to reunite more than 2,000 immigrant children with their families within 30 days, or 14 days for those younger than 5. Souza's attorneys nonetheless moved forward with an emergency hearing in their lawsuit against the Trump administration to demand her son be immediately released.

After her release Souza, 27, filled out nearly 40 pages of documents that US officials told her were required to regain custody. Then they told her that the rules had changed and that she needed any family members living with her in the United States to be fingerprinted and still more documents. At Thursday's hearing, Shah questioned Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian about whether the government has a process by which the boy's status could be switched from "unaccompanied" to "accompanied minor," making it easier to release him promptly to his mom. He was automatically designated "unaccompanied" after his mom was initially detained at the border. "Not to my knowledge, your honor," Fabian answered. After a pause, Shah said the lack of a process could raise major constitutional issues. He didn't elaborate. (Also Thursday, Melania Trump made her second visit to an immigration facility.)


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