In a judgment [text, pdf] Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California [official website], Judge Dana Sabraw said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” immigration policy in which the government has been separating minor children from their parents may violate due process.
The class action lawsuit [text, PDF] involves a Congolese asylum-seeking mother, referred to as “Ms. L,” who was separated from her 7-year-old daughter after coming across the US-Mexico border.
The court found “sufficient facts and a sufficient legal basis set forth to state a claim that separation from their children while they are contesting their removal and without a determination, they are unfit or present a danger to their children violates due process.” The court did find the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and their clients failed to state a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) or the Asylum Statute.
Plaintiffs allegedly came to the United States seeking shelter from persecution in their home countries, and are seeking asylum here. The government actors responsible for the “care and custody” of migrant children have, in fact, become their persecutors. This is even more problematic given Plaintiffs’ allegations and assertions that there is a government practice, and possibly a forthcoming policy, to separate parents from their minor children in an effort to deter others from coming to the United States.
The government argued that the case was moot because Ms. L had been reunited with her daughter. Sabraw found that did not necessarily make it moot.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on [JURIST report] the US to halt this policy, saying that the practice of separating children from their parents runs counter to human rights standards and principles, and that “Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status.”