As has been widely publicized, the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy has led to the separation and detention of upwards of 2,000 children. This enforcement policy has left 103 children under the age of five and over 2,000 other children separated from their families in government-run and private detention facilities while their asylum claims are under review.
Immigration advocates, humanitarian organizations and the press have taken up the cause of the detained children and have brought resources to the border in an effort to help the children. Among the many steps taken to prevent harm to the children and to reunify them with their parents was the filing of a lawsuit by the ACLU known as Ms. L v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Ms. L. lawsuit asked a federal court in California to reunite a mother and her 7-year-old daughter who, after seeking asylum in the U.S., were separately 2,000 miles apart. The lawsuit cites violations of the Constitution’s due process clause, federal law protecting asylum seekers, and of the government’s own directive to keep families intact. “Ms. L” and her daughter were reunited in March, though the national class-action lawsuit in this case continues.
As part of the Ms. L. lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) to take immediate steps to reunify separated children with their detained parent. According to recent reports, many of the children have been reunited with their parents, only to be rushed through the courts and deported, with no opportunity to present claims for refugee status or other forms of relief.
Even as the government contends with the myriad of challenges of prolonged detention of fragile, separated children, pre-teens and teens in prison-like conditions, reports continue of sexual abuse and improper treatment for incarcerated juveniles. On Monday, July 30, 2018, a federal judge in Texas ordered the Administration to transfer all undocumented immigrant minors out of a detention facility in Texas due to allegations of abuse and overmedication of the children.
The Ms. L case and the chaos of reuniting parents with children, the detention of babies and school-age children, the heart-wrenching separation of mothers and children, the political pressure to deport aliens, the disregard for established law and the abandonment of America’s legacy as a refuge for the persecuted all raise questions about the future of American policy and what kind of country we are and what kind of country we want to be.
Ultimately, the responsibility belongs to the people of the U.S. to voice their opinions and to bring pressure to bear through political channels, through the media, through their donations and through their personal activism. As American citizens, if you object to the government’s actions, contact your Congressman, your Senators and the White House. For additional information on this subject and for suggestions on what you can do effect change, please contact us.