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Immigration Law

Expert: Court Sanctions Against Feds Over Family Separations Would Be Difficult To Enforce

Alan Gomez, USA Today, July 11, 2018 - "A federal judge may decide this week to impose some kind of punishment against the Trump administration if he determines that it failed to meet his deadlines to reunite immigrant children separated from their parents. Though the image of Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen being carted off to jail is unlikely, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw does have several options to force the government to speed up the reunification process. Legal experts said the judge could threaten contempt of court – and jail time – against lower-ranking members of federal agencies, could order hefty fines or order the agency heads to appear in court as a form of public shaming. Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell Law School, said even those sanctions would be difficult to enforce because they would surely draw government appeals. That's why a more symbolic finding of contempt of court, without much punishment attached, may be the limit of Sabraw's ruling. "The court of public opinion, and the admonition by the judge, may be about as much as anyone can practically do at this point," said Yale-Loehr, who signed onto an amicus brief against the government in a lawsuit."