UPDATE: Asylum Seeker Released By ICE, Daughter Still In Custody
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by Countable | 3.7.18
UPDATE March 3, 2018: Public scrutiny and the efforts of the ACLU have reportedly been successful in prompting the release of a Congolese immigrant seeking asylum. The woman has been held in custody since early November 2017. The Hill reports the woman was released Tuesday.
Her 7-year old daughter, however, is still being held in ICE custody. ICE pushed back against reports about family separations, insisting that they only do so when the safety of the child is in question due to human trafficking and smuggling. They claimed privacy concerns, and did not allege anything of that nature in this case.
.@PostOpinions just ignored @DHSgov statement because the facts didn't match with the @washingtonpost agenda. I spoke at length with Lee Hockstader, but they only included ONE word from our statement below: pic.twitter.com/zg81rkkGaC— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) March 5, 2018
The ACLU is seeking the release of the child into her mother's custody, and pledges to continue to fight the practice of family separation.
Countable's original story is below.
What’s the story?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pursuing a case against the Trump administration on behalf of a Congolese asylum-seeker who has been detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) thousands of miles away from her seven year old daughter. The mother is currently detained in San Diego, while her daughter is being held in Chicago.
In March of 2017 reports emerged that Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) was considering a change in policy-- separating immigrants from their children when they are apprehended crossing the border, in order to deter illegal border crossings. A year later a formal policy has not been put in place.
However, the Washington Post reports that Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has documented 53 cases where undocumented immigrant parents have been detained separately from their children from June 2017 through February 18.
Ms. L, the immigrant being represented by the ACLU, fled from the Congo to Mexico with her daughter. After having crossed the border, she presented herself to ICE in order to formally seek asylum. ICE officials felt she had a credible case, and yet after 4 days Ms. L and her then-6 year old daughter, named S.S. in court paperwork, were separated. S.S. was moved to a detention facility in Chicago.
S.S. turned 7 in December. She and her mother have only been able to speak via phone half a dozen times since they were separated in early November 2017.
The suit seeks for Ms. L and her daughter to be moved to family detention together while their asylum case is processed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, "Trump administration officials have said a final decision about whether to split illegal immigrants and their children at the border hasn’t been made, but some children are separated if a parent has a serious criminal history or there are concerns about the child’s safety or welfare."
ACLU lawyers representing Ms. L say that she has not been informed why she and her daughter have been separated. There have been no allegations that Ms. L is an unfit parent.
The Washington Post Editorial Board argues, "The only principle at work [in Ms. L’s case], if it can be called that, is the idea that future asylum seekers might be deterred if they are convinced that the United States is actually a crueler and more heartless place than their native country.
Seventy-five Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to DHS requesting an explanation for the increase in family separations.
The Department of Homeland Security has refused to make a comment on the case.
What do you think?
Should ICE enact an official policy to separate immigrants who cross U.S. borders illegally from their children as a means of deterring immigration? In the absence of an official policy, should ICE be engaging in this practice?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: prideimmigration.com/Creative Commons)
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