The US Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its partners filed a federal lawsuit last week seeking compensation for damages on behalf of thousands of traumatized children and parents who were .
“The suffering and trauma inflicted on these little children and parents is horrible,” said Lee Gelernt, a senior lawyer at the ACLU in the family separation lawsuit. “Tragically, these families could take years to heal. Some may never recover, but we are struggling to give them a chance. “
The plaintiffs cited in the complaint include families from Guatemala and Honduras who were separated along the Arizona border for up to 16 months.
Through a press release, ACLU recalled that it won a national mandate in June 2018 that blocks family separations. The demand covers separations that occur between 2017 and the present.
During that time:
– Thousands of children, including babies and young children, were torn from their parents’ arms with little or no warning. No explanations were given as to why they were being separated.
– No answers were provided on where the children were taken. No information was provided to the children or parents about the other’s whereabouts.
The separated families were not told when, or even if, they would meet again.
– The separated children, after being separated from their parents, were detained in punitive conditions, which included spending weeks without communicating with their parents. During this period, parents had no idea how they took care of their children or by whom.
– Several parents attempted suicide, and some occurred tragically. Traumatized children did not receive any significant treatment to address the suffering they experienced or the lasting effects of their separation and seclusion.
– The care and follow-up of the administration for separated children was so poor that when a federal court finally ordered the government to reunify families, government officials could not identify which child belonged to which parent.
on children’s emotional growth and cognitive development. Meanwhile, separated parents face an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, with trauma related to severe anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
A September 2019 health and human services surveillance report found that separated children suffered from “acute pain that made them cry inconsolably,” “they believed their parents had abandoned them,”
A House Oversight report from July 2019 concluded that those responsible for the separations “have not been honest with the American people” about the horrors faced by these families,it was previously known. “
In addition to the damages, the lawsuit seeks to create a fund to pay for mental health professional services for affected families.
The lawsuit cites violations of the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable capture of children); the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment (fundamental right to family integrity; right to a hearing; right to adequate medical care); and equal protection (which prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity or national origin).
The defendants include officials from the Departments of Justice, National Security, Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Settlement, and the White House.