The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a class action suit in federal court against ICE, Homeland Security and other U.S. government agencies and individuals over the appalling Trump administration directive to separate parents who come to the U.S. seeking asylum from their children in order to “discourage” asylum seekers.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, details two cases where immigrants and their children were forcibly separated and then kept under guard thousands of miles apart without any legal due process.
The suit accuses the federal government of a “nationwide unlawful practice of separating parents and children absent any showing that the parent presents a danger to the child.”
In one case, a Congolese woman detained near San Diego had her seven-year-old daughter taken “screaming and crying” from her and placed in a Chicago detention camp.
In a second case detailed in the suit, a Brazilian woman referred to as “Ms. C” who is seeking asylum was separated from her 14-year-old son, and incarcerated for a 25-day sentence in West Texas for illegally entering the country, while her child was taken to the Chicago detention camp.
“Ms. C is desperate to be reunited with her son,” according to the suit, “who has been having a difficult time emotionally since being separated from his mother. Ms. C worries about him constantly and does not know when she will be able to see him.”
The lawsuit filed in San Diego asks a judge to declare family separation unlawful and to end a Trump administration practice which has seen hundreds of families split up by immigration authorities.
One motivation for the suit now, according to the ACLU, is that Trump administration officials are “considering separating parents and children to deter others from trying to enter the U.S.”
In other words, Trump wants to make an example of people who come to America seeking refuge from the terrors they face at home, who have committed no crime, by cruelly ripping apart the parents and children so others will know not to come to the U.S. for help.
“Whether or not the Trump administration wants to call this a ‘policy,’ it certainly is engaged in a widespread practice of tearing children away from their parents,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
Administration officials have falsely claimed too many people try to enter the U.S. using the asylum process by making “frivolous claims,” reports the Associated Press,
Critics say the border guards unlawfully turn people away along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Since Trump took office at least 426 immigrant adults and children have been separated, according to Michelle Brane, director of the migrant rights and justice program for the Women’s Refugee Commission, which is far more than under President Obama.
“A lot of these kids are already afraid because they’re fleeing something and they know they’re fleeing something,” said Brane. “And to have them pulled away, that can be devastating for a parent.”
Under Trump, we are regularly treated to images of tearful parents being forced to leave their loving families after years living together in the U.S. without committing any crimes, as part of ICE’s cold-blooded policy of deporting any undocumented immigrant – a task they undertake with stunning cruelty.
What the ACLU is highlighting with its lawsuit is another aspect to this tragic and inhumane policy – but it goes further because it blackens the U.S. reputation as a place that provides refuge to those who are tortured, tormented and debased by the cruel regimes and impossible circumstances in their home countries.
During World War II there were endless stories about Jews and other refugees from Nazi Germany being turned away from the U.S., but since then it has been American policy to be more sensitive and open to helping others – until now.
Under Trump, cruelty has replaced humanity, and our country that was built by immigrants has turned against immigration. These poor people knocking on the door with their children asking for help are victims of this reprehensible change in our government.