The American Civil Liberties Union alleged in court filings Tuesday that the U.S. government has continued separating immigrant children from their families despite a San Diego federal judge’s court order prohibiting the practice, including more than 900 children separated since last summer for what the ACLU alleges are flimsy justifications for separation.
The ACLU claims that 911 children, including 185 under the age of 5, have been separated from their parents since June 28, 2018, with the government justifying some separations on the basis of the parents’ negligible criminal history, including offenses as minor as traffic violations.
While many of the children have been reunited with their families, the ACLU contends that hundreds of others were separated despite U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw’s injunction issued last summer regarding the separations.
The ACLU argues that a parent must be unfit or present a danger to the child in order to justify a separation, but the government has overseen separations on the basis of “minor crimes or questionable allegations of parental unfitness.”
Some of the criminal history outlined in the ACLU’s filing include shoplifting, driving without a license, public intoxication and marijuana possession.
The filing also states that many of the government’s claims do not mention whether the allegations resulted in a conviction.
In other cases, the parents were deemed unfit for reasons the ACLU alleges are dubious.
One man who was diagnosed with HIV was separated from his three daughters without an explanation why his diagnosis should compel separation, the ACLU says.
Another child was separated from her father for his failure to promptly change her dirty diaper while the pair were being held in a detention facility. The ACLU alleges that the girl was asleep at the time and the father elected not to wake her in order to let her sleep to recover from a recent illness.
“The court should clarify the standard for ongoing separations to ensure that children may not be separated from their parents absent an objective reason to believe the parent is unfit or a danger,” the ACLU’s papers read.
—City News Service