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Families Separated at Border File Lawsuit

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Last week, it was announced that two of the families that were separated at the border while crossing without documentation have filed a lawsuit against various government officials, seeking to hold somebody responsible for the illegal, and traumatic, experience the children and parents suffered.

The case makes class action allegations on behalf of the other separated children and families, and also alleges a conspiracy between several top officials to separate families in order to deter immigration via the southern border.

Detailing the Detention, Separation, and Injury

The lawsuit details many of the traumatic and frightening experiences the children suffered, as well as the harrowing experience of the parents watching their children being taken away upon entry in the United States. Notably, the named plaintiffs in the case are not named for fear of retaliation from the persecutors who drove them from their home countries to seek asylum in the United States.

One of the mothers claims to have been specifically told her children were being taken to punish her for entering illegally, and that her children would be put up for adoption. And if that wasn't shocking enough, one of the children has been suffering as a result of being mistreated while in detention. It is alleged that she would be woken up in the middle of the night by having her hair pulled, and her 17-year-old brother while also being detained was physical assaulted because officials did not believe he was 17 years old.

In addition to the assaults, the families are seeking compensation for the mental injury, anguish, and trauma, they now must deal with. The case also seeks compensation for the class, such as the establishment of a fund to treat the medical needs of those who suffered trauma as a result of being separated.

Officially Liable

Whether the government officials will be held liable for their actions is a difficult question to assess this early in the process. However, given the recent hostility of the federal courts towards section 1983 claims, and particularly Bivens claims, which are one of the few claims available for holding federal agents and officials liable, qualified immunity will likely play a large role in the matter.

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