(Reuters) - Lawyers for immigrant families separated by the U.S. government at the border with Mexico said a federal judge's order barring rapid deportations until at least next Tuesday would give them breathing room as they struggled for access to clients.
The families had been separated amid a broader crackdown on illegal immigration by President Donald Trump's administration, sparking an international outcry. The president ordered that the practice be halted on June 20.
Judge Dana Sabraw, in Monday's order, sided with the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that parents facing imminent deportation should have a week to decide if they want to leave their children in the United States to pursue asylum separately.
Sabraw asked the government to respond before the next hearing on July 24 in a case brought by the rights' group to challenge the family separations. Until then, he halted rapid deportations.
The judge's order on Monday gave lawyers more time to "figure out what reunification is going to mean for our clients," said Beth Krause, a supervising lawyer at the New York-based Legal Aid Society's Immigrant Youth Project.
Some mothers may turn down reunification if it meant their child could win asylum in the United States even if they themselves are deported, she said.
In a related ruling in a separate case on Tuesday, the Legal Aid Society won a temporary court order barring the government from moving any of the dozens of separated migrant children the group represents in New York without at least 48 hours' notice.
The group had asked for an emergency injunction on Monday, arguing that the government was swiftly moving children and parents without giving them time to speak to lawyers about the possible legal consequences, including removal from the country.
U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said the order expired on Thursday unless extended or modified by another judge, and that it applied only to Legal Aid's clients and not to all of the thousands of separated children.
Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said the ban on rapid deportations "buys us a little bit of time."
"I am still uncertain we have made contact with all the parents who are detained in our particular region," he said.
Baron's group has secured legal representation for several dozen separated parents sent to government detention centers in Washington state. But even on Monday, he said, he learned of an immigrant mother who had yet to make contact with a lawyer.
"She might have slipped through the cracks," without the judge's order, Baron said.
Last month, Sabraw set a July 26 deadline for the government to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the border with Mexico. Many of the immigrants are fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Tom Hogue and Bernadette Baum)