The American Immigration Council filed administrative claims for monetary damages on behalf of six asylum-seeking mothers and their children for the trauma they suffered when torn apart under the Trump Administration’s family separation policy. Each family was fleeing persecution in their country of origin. Instead of finding safety in the United States, the government forcibly took the children from their mothers and then left them in the dark about where they were taken and when—if ever—they would see each other again. The mothers and their children suffered greatly during the separations, which in some cases lasted for months. For example:
- One 7-year-old girl is still unable to sleep unless her mom holds her;
- A 7-year-old boy refuses to go to school, fearful of being separated from his mom again;
- A 5-year-old girl now cries when she drops something, saying “Don’t get mad at me, don’t hit me.”
- A 6-year-old boy separated from his mother for more than two months refuses to talk about his time in a New York shelter and is reluctant to eat.
The claims charge the government with intentionally inflicting emotional pain and suffering on these families in order to deter other Central Americans from seeking asylum in the United States. The claims were filed with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services. They are brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue the United States for injuries resulting from unlawful conduct of federal officers.
The mothers and their children are represented by the Council, the National Immigrant Justice Center, Arnold & Porter, and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin.
By AMERICAN IMMIGRATION COUNCIL
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