Friday, April 12, 2024

ACLU sues federal government agencies over the practice of separating asylum-seeking families

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced last Friday that it has filed a national class-action lawsuit against multiple federal government agencies over the practice of separating asylum-seeking families.

“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,” Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “A national class-action lawsuit is appropriate because this is a national practice.”

The suit, filed on behalf of two plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, 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.”

Multiple government agencies are named as defendants in the complaint; Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, as well as top officials at the agencies.

The lawsuit expands on a previous lawsuit filed by the ACLU in an effort to reunite a Congolese mother and her 7-year-old daughter who were detained 2,000 miles apart. The woman was released earlier this week from a detention center in San Diego, according to but her daughter remains detained in Chicago.

It also mentions the case of a Brazilian woman, who fled to the U.S. with her 14-year-old son in August 2017. The suit claims the two were seeking asylum, but the woman was detained for entering the U.S. illegally and spent nearly a month in prison, and her son was sent to a holding facility in Chicago.

The lawsuit seeks a judge’s declaration that the separation of families is against the law. In a statement DHS said that it has no policy to separate asylum-seeking parents from their children and ask that these claims are treated with “skepticism”