United States District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to unite children separated from their families under the “zero tolerance” immigration policy within a month and refrain from such harsh actions in the future, via granting a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday.

“The facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making. They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution,” the judge declared in his verdict, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

“The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process,” he added.

As per the current order, children under the age of five must be reunited with their parents within the next 14 days, while older children must be returned to their families within the next 30 days. Also, if parents were not already in contact with their kids being kept in detention facilities, federal agents were ordered to let family members call the children within the next 14 days.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU following Trump’s signing of an executive order on June 22, which the president claimed, proposed to put a stop to the separation policy. The organization claimed the executive order was flawed because it failed to articulate a plan to reunite the children already in custody, with their parents.

ACLU had a particular issue with a loophole in the executive order which authorized family separation “when there is a concern that detention of an alien child with the child’s alien parent would pose a risk to the child’s welfare.”

“Those vague terms are not defined, and they would allow enormous leeway for immigration officers to justify separations that don’t meet constitutional standards,” the ACLU said in a blog post.

Migrant A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas, June 12, 2018. Photo: Getty Images/ John Moore

“The lack of foresight and planning is galling. For each day the government stalls, thousands of children are subjected to irreparable trauma. What’s more, there have been reports that immigration officers are actively pressuring parents to give up their asylum claims in order to be reunited with their children. This cruelty and utter contempt for the welfare of children and the rule of law cannot stand. Our government cannot be allowed to hold children hostage in order to sabotage the legal claims of people seeking refuge,” the post read.

Before the judge gave his verdict on Tuesday, attorneys for the government argued that as per Trump’s executive order, federal agencies had started working on reunification of the more than 2,000 separated families and must hence be given “time to take action, rather than issuing an injunctive order.”

The ACLU, however, counter-argued that criminally charging illegal immigrants and completing a civil process against them wherein the courts move to deport them back to where they came from can take from weeks to months. Keeping children away from their families till the civil proceedings are completed was not fair to them.

“This is a complete victory for these families and children who have been suffering for months,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. “Many of these parents and children thought they might never see each other again. They have literally been living through a nightmare and the court has now ended their trauma.”