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By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) - A federal judge has ruled that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is acting within its authority when it comes to separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border without any violation of the "rights to family integrity".

".... the Court finds Defendants are generally exercising their discretion to separate families at the border consistent with Plaintiffs' rights to family integrity and the Court's orders..", U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego said in a 26-page decision.

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had claimed that the government was separating families, making exceptions to its pledge to end the practice.

In June 2018, Sabraw had ruled that U.S. immigration agents could no longer separate immigrant parents and children caught illegally crossing the border from Mexico, and must reunite those families that had been split up in custody.

Back then, the judge had granted ACLU a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed over the family separations.

The ruling on Monday added that the court should decline to "second-guess" determinations made by the government that they are exercising "discretion and judgment in a reasonable manner" in their actions.

The ACLU said in a statement it was considering its next move.

"The court strongly reaffirmed that the Trump administration bears the burden if it attempts to separate families based on an accusation that the adult is not the child's parent," ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said.

"We are evaluating the decision to determine next steps on how to ensure that children are not separated from their parents based on minor infractions."


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