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900 children separated from families at US border since last summer, ACLU claims

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jul 30, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to block the Trump administration from separating children from their parents, claiming that more than 900 children, "including numerous babies and toddlers," have been separated since late June 2018.

A federal court had ordered family separations to end at that time, except in cases where a parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child. But the ACLU filing maintains that US Customs and Border Protection agents continue to do so despite the court order, separating children based on minor offenses like traffic violations.

"Some of the separations are for offenses that took place many years ago. And some are for mere allegations or arrests without convictions," the filing reads.

Tuesday's filing marks yet another development in the still ongoing family separation lawsuit that began in 2018. Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that potentially thousands more parents and children the US government split up at the southern border would now be included in a lawsuit over family separations.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said at a recent House hearing that fewer than 1,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents at the southern border this fiscal year, out of 450,000 families who have crossed.

There is a long-standing policy that allows immigration officials to separate a child from a parent if there are concerns for the child's welfare.

The Ms. L et al. vs. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al. case was initially prompted by the separation of a Congolese woman and her 7-year-old daughter. The American Civil Liberties Union originally filed the case last year and it was later expanded to become a class action lawsuit.