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Immigration: Parents sue over child abuse during family separation

Immigration: Parents sue over child abuse during family separation
The two fathers are suing the U.S. government for a total of $6 million. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Two men sued the Trump administration Friday, accusing the U.S. government of "cruel and unconstitutional" policies that resulted in their children be separated from their families and abused in foster homes.

The men -- identified only by their initials in the lawsuit -- said their children were still suffering from the trauma of being forcibly separated by the U.S. government and placed in foster care.

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In spring 2018, the U.S. government announced a new zero-tolerance policy to prosecute all migrants who illegally crossed the southwest border. With parents detained for prosecution, the administration separated thousands of migrant children and placed them in housing facilities or foster care.

The move prompted outcry from pro-immigration activists and the Trump administration relented, halting the separation policy.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center, which represents the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the government "deliberately terrorized these families."

"Forcible parent-child separations have long been known to cause significant short- and long-term damage to mental, physical and emotional health," the SPLC said.

"Still, in the name of deterrence of future migration, the government tore immigrant children from their parents, sent those children thousands of miles away from their parents, refused to inform parents and children of each other's whereabouts or well-being, and refused to provide adequate means for them to talk with each other."

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One of the plaintiffs, A.P.F., said his 7-year-old son was sexually abused while in foster care in New York. He reported the abuse and officials transferred him to a different foster home.

The other man, J.V.S., said another foster child inappropriately touched his 5-year-old daughter while she was in care. Officials moved her, as well.

A.P.F. said his son "exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder ... and suffers from traumatic flashbacks, nightmares and extreme separation anxiety," the lawsuit says.

The girl "also exhibits PTSD symptoms and has nightmares, is quick to anger and suffers from low self-esteem."

The lawsuit seeks compensation of $3 million for each family.

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