Complaint Documents 15 Cases of Family Separation at the Border

December 11, 2017

The American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA), and others filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on behalf of numerous familiesmost, if not all, who fled to the United States seeking humanitarian relief – who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. The complaint lifts up the cases of fifteen individuals – including toddlers – who were separated from their family members shortly after their arrival to the United States, and which serves to illustrate an increasing trend of family separation at our Southern border.

Forcibly separating familiesand specifically children from their parentsat the U.S.-Mexico border is an illegal and amoral practice. The United States should honor its legacy of providing safe haven to those fleeing violence and its commitment to the fundamental value of family unity and reunification. The Trump administration made assurances in March 2017 that DHS would not resort to a border-wide policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. Since that time, however, accounts from the field reflect an increase in the number of families separated by U.S. immigration officials upon their arrival to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The complaint demands that the DHS oversight agenciesCRCL and OIGinvestigate DHS’s increasing and alarming practice of separating families at the border. The practice of dividing families raises Constitutional due process concerns under the Fifth Amendment, violates United States’ obligations under international law, and contravenes voluminous evidence maintaining that family separation is not in the best interest of the child. A policy of family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border also illegally operates as a deterrence to those seeking humanitarian relief.

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