Eight migrants arrested for illegally entering the United States are suing the government for millions over alleged “trauma” and “inexplicable cruelty” during their time in detention.
The claims, submitted to the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services through the Federal Tort Claims Act, gives the government six months to respond before the families can follow through with a lawsuit, attorney representing the illegal immigrants, Stanton Jones, told the Associated Press.
“The government was harming children intentionally to try to advance what it viewed as a policy objective,” Jones said of separating children from adults in custody. “It’s heinous and immoral, but it’s also a civil wrong for which the law provides a claim for relief.”
The army of lawyers representing the families – from the American Immigration Council, National Immigrant Justice Center, and two high-profile law firms – think the alleged harm is worth $6 million, each.
They argue the “inexplicable cruelty” revolves around enforcement of the law that requires officers to separate adults in custody from children to establish the relationship and process the adult’s crime.
According to the AP:
In one claim, a Guatemalan woman alleges she was detained in May with her 5-year-old son in a type of temporary detention facility nicknamed a ‘hielera,’ or icebox in Spanish. When they arrived in Arizona, the claim alleges, an immigration officer told her the law had changed, that their children would be taken, and that they would be deported. She says the officer then told her: “Happy Mother’s Day.”
The woman says another immigration officer woke her up at about 5 a.m. days later, ordered her to bathe and clothe her son, and then took her son into another room. The woman says she begged not to have her son taken, then asked the two be deported together to Guatemala rather than separated.
“The officer laughed,” the claim says. “He made fun of her indigenous accent and said, laughingly, ‘it’s not that easy.’”
The claim contends the woman was eventually reunited with her son at a family detention center and released months later. The separation allegedly impacted the woman’s sleep, appetite and emotional well-being, and she now suffers symptoms of PTSD. Her child continues to suffer separation anxiety and “severe emotional distress,” according to the complaint posted by Courthouse News.
It contends “the trauma inflicted by the family separation policy was entirely intentional and premeditated.
“This point cannot be overstated,” according to the claim, “the most senior members of the U.S. government intentionally chose to cause parents and small children extraordinary pain and suffering in order to accomplish their policy objectives.
“The unspeakable pain and suffering experienced by parents and small children was seen as a useful device by the most senior members of the U.S Government to accomplish their policy objective of deterring Central Americans from seeing asylum in the United States.”
The complaint contends the separation “violated the claimants’ Constitutional right to family integrity.”
What it did not address is the role immigrant parents played in their own problems by attempting to smuggle their children into a foreign country illegally.
It’s an important point that wasn’t lost on folks online.
How come they don't demand human rights from their own country…demand millions from their own country…they separated their children themselves by breaking our LAWS.. if i go to jail, can i take my kids…
— Rich (@WwwWordpics7) February 11, 2019
“How come they don’t demand human rights from their own country … demand millions from their own country … they separated their children themselves by breaking our LAWS .. if i go to jail, can i take my kids …” Rich posted to Twitter.
II would assume this is a civil suit. How do they have rights to file a civil suit without being legal? How about we involve Child Protective Services regarding the intentional endangerment these people enacted upon their children? #MAGA #BuildTheWall
— Big D (@dnd1996) February 12, 2019
“I would assume this is a civil suit. How do they have rights to file a civil suit without being legal? How about we involve Child Protective Services regarding the intentional endangerment these people enacted upon their children?” Big D added.
If an American dragged their child from Florida to California with little food or water and no medical care they would remove the child from our care. The same should apply here.
— Jer Rowlett (@JeraldRowlett) February 12, 2019
“If an American dragged their child from Florida to California with little food or water and no medical care they would remove the child from our care,” Jer Rowlett wrote. “The same should apply here.”
Illegal: I'll just sneak across this border so I can get all the free stuff CA promises me.
CBD: Uh, no, you have to ask permission to come here.
Illegal: I may not have any documentation, but trust me, she's my daughter.
CBD: We have to check
Illegal: Pay me $6 million!!!
— Chihoowa' oshi' (@DroppinTheMitts) February 12, 2019