A Congolese asylum seeker, who reportedly feared for the life of her daughter and her own life, fled from Congo to the United States. She cleared the screening interview with the asylum officer and entered the country along with her 7-year-old daughter.
However, the mother, identified only as “Ms. L., and her daughter, identified as “S.S.,” were unlawfully held in separate detentions that were miles apart for months, alleged the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit.
Just a couple of days into the United States, the daughter was forcefully taken away from her mother by immigration officials “without justification or even a hearing” and both of them were placed in separate detention centers in early November.
The mother was detained in a San Deigo detention center while the daughter in a Chicago detention center.
The biggest irony of this case is that the immigration authorities have no reason for the detentions. This is what prompted the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government, which had seemingly violated the family’s constitutional rights.
As her child was taken away, the mother “could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit calls for the pair to be immediately reunited.
The mother has now been released. However, her daughter has been in detention for the past four months. The mother only had the chance to speak with her daughter over the phone a couple of times.
“Each time S.S. is able to speak with her mother on the phone, she is crying,” the lawsuit reads. “Every day that S.S. is separated from her mother causes her greater emotional and psychological harm and could potentially lead to permanent emotional trauma.”
A DHS official told the Washington Post in a statement the department doesn’t “currently have a policy of separating women and children,” but noted that the department may do so, “particularly to protect a child from potential smuggling and trafficking activities.”
However, it is pertinent to note in this case the Congolese mother was released and one fails to understand the point of keeping a minor under detention.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Mike Blake