Hundreds of children are still being separated from their families at the US-Mexico border, according to a court filing. A US judge ordered the practice to be sharply curtailed last year.
The Trump administration has taken hundreds of children from their families at the United States-Mexico border since a judge ordered the practice be stopped last year, Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told a federal judge on Tuesday.
Of the hundreds of thousands of children detained at the border since the court order last year, 911 had been separated from their families, the ACLU said in a 218-page court filing in San Diego citing data from the US Justice Department. That number includes the 678 whose parents faced allegations of criminal conduct.
The nonprofit group says one in every five children separated is under the age of 5.
In June 2018, US District Court Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction that ordered the government to halt the practice of splitting families at the border except in limited circumstances — such as concerns about a child's safety. He also told the Trump administration to reunite more than 2,700 children who were in government custody at the time with their families.
Separations over minor offenses?
Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security Secretary, has said that family separations are "extremely rare" and only occur when a parent poses a risk to a child due to his or her criminal record, a communicable disease, abuse or neglect.
However, the ACLU says federal immigration and border protection agents are separating families based on minor offenses.
One migrant lost his child because of a $5 theft that resulted in a six-day jail sentence, the group said. Another migrant lost his daughter because a border patrol agent claimed he had failed to change the girl's diaper.
Six others were separated from their children for convictions of marijuana possession, while eight more had their children taken away for fraud and forgery offenses.
A government spreadsheet shows 44 separations based on assault allegations. However, in 11 of those cases, there is no indication that the parent was convicted and 34 don't signify the severity of the offense, the ACLU said.
The group asked the judge to order the government to clarify when separations should be allowed to occur.
dv/aw (AP, dpa)