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US judge orders immediate release of detained Brazilian boy


AP Chicago
A federal judge in Chicago today ordered the US government to release a 9-year-old Brazilian boy who was separated from his mother at the US-Mexico border, saying that their continued separation "irreparably harms them both."

Judge Manish Shah mulled his decision for just a few hours before finding that Lidia Karine Souza can have custody of her son, Diogo, who has spent four weeks at a government-contracted shelter in Chicago. Shah ordered that the child be released today, but didn't specify a time. Souza's attorneys said she would pick up her son this afternoon.
The mother, who has applied for asylum, was released from an immigrant detention facility in Texas on June 9 and is living with relatives outside Boston.
"We are thrilled that Lidia Souza and her son will be reunited today as the result of this afternoon's order," attorneys Jesse Bless and Britt Miller said in a written statement.
"Judge Shah has vindicated the rule of law and taken a definitive step to allow Lidia's son to finally be with her again. We are hopeful that this outcome will benefit other families facing similar circumstances."

At a hearing earlier today, Shah, the son of immigrants from India, heard arguments, then said he needed some time to think it through before making a decision. He took just four hours before posting his written ruling.
"Continued separation of ... (the) nine year-old child, and Souza," he wrote, "irreparably harms them both." 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. He has spent four weeks at a government-contracted shelter in Chicago, much of it alone in a room, quarantined with chickenpox. He spent his ninth birthday on Monday without his mom.
Shah wrote that he understood that volume of paperwork, filings and forms normally required before the government can release a child in its custody are intended to ensure the child's well-being. But, he said, "the government's interests in completing certain procedures to be sure that (Souza's child) is placed in a safe environment and in managing the response to ongoing class litigation do not outweigh the family's interest in reuniting."

The fitness of the mother in this case isn't questioned, he said, so dragging out processing "only serves to interfere in the family's integrity with little to no benefit to the government's interests."

Souza has been allowed to phone her son for just 20 minutes per week. She has said he would beg her though tears to do everything in her power to get him back to her. The 27-year-old woman searched for weeks to find Diogo after the two were separated at the border in late May. When she was released, she 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.
After a government attorney told Shah at today's hearing that she may need two or three days to file additional arguments on any constitutional issues raised by the case because she had a flight to catch in a few hours, the mother's lawyer balked.

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First Published: Jun 29 2018 | 2:50 AM IST

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