ACLU Lawsuit Challenging The Inhumane Practice of Separating Families at Border Will Advance

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As Donald Trump’s administration ramps up its inhumane policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border, a federal judge on Wednesday refused the government’s request to dismiss an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging this very practice. This means the suit, which seeks to stop the federal government from tearing families apart, will continue to advance.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego condemned the government’s “wrenching separation” of parents and children:

Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency. At a minimum, the facts alleged are sufficient to show the government conduct at issue “shocks the conscience” and violates Plaintiffs’ constitutional right to family integrity.


The ACLU originally filed the suit in February after a Congolese woman, who entered the United States seeking asylum, was separated from her 7-year-old daughter. Thanks in part of the White House’s “zero tolerance” policy for border crossings, this story has become disturbingly routine—so much so that the government is running out of room to house all of the children (many of them younger than 12) who have been taken from their parents. The Department of Health and Human Services will soon begin touring military bases to evaluate their fitness for use as shelters. Meanwhile, an Oregon senator claimed to have seen “children in cages” at a Border Patrol Processing Center in Texas over the weekend. He was not admitted to the shelter for unaccompanied minors.

In a statement to the media, ACLU’s Lee Gelernt responded to today’s ruling, saying, “In the most forceful language, the court rejected the Trump administration’s claim that the Constitution permits it to engage in the inhumane practice of tearing little children away from their parents.”

The cruelty of the Trump administration knows no bounds, but activists and civil rights groups aren’t letting it go without a fight.

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.

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