A California judge ruled Wednesday that 11 illegal immigrant parents who were deported from the U.S. without their children must be allowed to return while they seek asylum, according to The Associated Press.
The ruling came from San Diego District Court Judge Dana Sabraw, who determined that government agents broke the law in preventing the parents from pursuing asylum claims by having them sign documents they didn't understand and coercing them to drop their asylum claims and accept deportation.
One of the parents who is being allowed to return to the U.S., David Xol, claims he was presented with a document he couldn't read and told that, if he didn't sign it, he could be detained for up to two years and his 9-year-old son would be given up for adoption.
Xol and the other parents allowed to return were deported under the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy, which was rescinded in June 2018. Sabraw is the same judge who, at that time, ordered the administration to begin reunifying families that had been separated under the policy.
The zero-tolerance policy, implemented in April 2018 by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, required that illegal border crossers would be criminally prosecuted.
As a result, parents who crossed illegally with children were detained in federal jails, and their children were sent to HHS shelters.
Some parents decided to have their children returned to them in their countries of origin, but others, like Xol, asked to return to the U.S. Xol was urged to do so by his attorney.
Seven other parents who were requesting the ability to return to the U.S. had their requests denied.
The decision came the same day as a report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services that detailed severe symptoms of psychological trauma in immigrant children who had been separated from their families.
"According to program directors and mental health clinicians, separated children exhibited more fear, feelings of abandonment, and post-traumatic stress than did children who were not separated," the report said.