The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal brief on Tuesday, alleging that the Trump administration has separated at least 900 additional migrant children from their families as they’ve crossed the border over the past year.
Between 2,500 and 3,000 children were taken away from their parents or guardians in what was known as the “zero tolerance” policy by the administration last year, according to the Human Rights Watch. That policy ended after President Donald Trump, amid public pressure, signed an executive order ending the practice.
A court order in June of last year also forbid the administration from continuing the “zero tolerance” rule, and created strict rule for when a child could be separated — only after “a determination that the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child” could a migrant child be taken away.
It appears, according to the legal brief by the ACLU, that the administration is trying to continue the child separation policy under the guise of that contingency, using a loose interpretation of it, CBS News reported.
“The government is systematically separating large numbers of families based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness, and errors in identifying bona fide parent-child relationships,” the ACLU wrote in its court filing, submitted on Tuesday.
5/ “They’re taking what was supposed to be a narrow exception for cases where the parent was genuinely a danger to the child and using it as a loophole to continue family separation.”https://t.co/ZzLMHR2RIO
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) July 30, 2019
Some of the reasons cited by the administration justifying separation appear to be frivolous, according to the organization.
One parent was found neglectful, for example, after he had decided he didn’t want to disturb his daughter from a nap, and so waited until she woke up to change her diaper. Another father was deemed unfit because he had an HIV diagnosis. Yet another had his kids stripped from him simply because he shared the name of a gang member from his native El Salvador.
That man and his children were reunited after being separated for 184 days. Others haven’t been so fortunate.
Some mothers were also separated from their children, with the administration arguing they had gang connections from the countries they had fled. But in some cases, those connections were loose or not by their choice — on at least one occasion, a gang connection was alleged against a migrant mother even though she had been raped and forced to be a girlfriend to one of the members in a gang against her will.