The American Civil Liberties Union told a federal judge Tuesday that 911 children had been separated in the past 12-months in aksing for clarification on the criteria that children are to be removed from their parents' care at the U.S.-Mexico border. Handout photo/Office Congresswoman of Doris Matsui/UPI | License Photo
July 30 (UPI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union told a federal judge Tuesday that the Trump administration had separated more than 900 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border in the year since the court placed an injunction to restrict the practice.
In late June 2018, federal Judge Dana M. Sabraw issued a nationwide injunction to temporarily stop the Trump administration from separating migrant children from their families unless the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child. But since then, 911 children have been removed from 844 parents "based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness and errors in identifying bona fide parent-child relationships," the ACLU said in the court filing.
Traffic violations, misdemeanor property damage, disorderly conduct violations and arrests without convictions have justified the state separating children from their parents, the ACLU said in arguing for the judge to clarify the rules to separate families.
In one case, a father was separated from his 1-year-old daughter because he was deemed unfit for not changing her diaper while she was sleeping. In another, a father was separated from his 4-year-old child because his speech impediment prevented him from answering Custom and Border Protection's questions.
"It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents," said Lee Gelernt, lead attorney in the family separation lawsuit and deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "Over 900 more families join the thousands of others previously torn apart by this cruel and illegal policy. The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations."
Of the 911 children separated from their families, 185 were under 5 years old and more than half were younger than 10 at the time they were detained, the ACLU said citing government data obtained as part of the court case.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Congress earlier this month that family separations are "rare and undertaken in the best interest and safety and welfare of the child."
The 911 children add to the more than 2,700 who were separated from their families between May and June 20, 2018.