ACLU Says Nearly 1,000 Children Have Been Taken From Their Parents in the Past Year

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The Trump administration has stolen almost 1,000 children from their parents since a judge ordered them to stop the cruel, racist practice, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday. According to a court filing in U.S. District Court in San Diego, more than half of the children were under the age of 10 when they were separated, and thirteen of the children were less than 1 year old.

A report provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and reviewed by the ACLU said that, 911 children were separated from their parents between June 26, 2018, when U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw ordered the government to reunite families, and June 29, 2019.

“As shown in the numerous declarations filed by advocates of children and parents, this issue has reached a critical juncture,” the ACLU wrote in its filing. “Hundreds of children, some literally just babies, are being irreparably damaged because their parent may have committed a minor offense in the past, even a traffic offense.”


One parent was separated from his child, according to the filing, over “malicious destruction” of property allegedly valued at $5.

A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guard allegedly told a man he was a “bad father” over his year-old baby’s wet diaper. Then, CBP separated the father and daughter for more than three months.


A father was separated from his three daughters because he was HIV positive. The ACLU wrote: “Despite requests, Defendants have not explained why they believe an HIV diagnosis rendered the father dangerous to his own children.”

One woman’s 5-year-old daughter was taken from her while she was in emergency surgery for a broken leg.


A 9-year-old girl was separated from her father because a CBP worker allegedly wrote the wrong name on a form.

CBP insisted that one 2-year-old’s birth certificate was fraudulent and only let the child reunite with her father after a DNA test. CBP also “did not provide the father, who speaks an indigenous language, with an interpreter.”


Forty-six children were separated from their parents because of what the ACLU called “the most dubious assertions that the parent has not sufficiently proven his or her relationship to the child.”

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt told the Washington Post: “They’re taking what was supposed to be a narrow exception for cases where the parent was genuinely a danger to the child and using it as a loophole to continue family separation. What everyone understands intuitively and what the medical evidence shows, this will have a devastating effect on the children and possibly cause permanent damage to these children, not to mention the toll on the parents.”