Family reunification sought for children sent to Connecticut
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Two children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border and detained in Connecticut have been traumatized by the ordeal, according to lawsuits seeking their release and reunification with their families.
The plaintiffs, a 9-year-old boy from Honduras and a 14-year-old girl from El Salvador, are currently housed by an agency in Groton that contracts with the government to hold children in federal custody. The suits were filed in federal court this week by lawyers from a legal services clinic at Yale Law School and Connecticut Legal Services.
A federal judge ruled on June 26 that children separated from families under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy must be reunited with their families within 30 days of his order, but advocates say there have been few signs of progress.
“There is no path or plan to reunify those families,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said at a news conference Friday on the lawsuits.
The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuits, which name as defendants the attorney general and leaders of other government agencies.
The children in the lawsuits were traveling north with family remembers to seek asylum from violence in their home countries when they were detained, according to the lawsuits. Since children can’t be in jail with their parents, more than 2,300 families caught by Border patrol have been separated under the administration’s policy to prosecute anyone caught crossing the border illegally.
The 9-year-old boy, identified in the lawsuit as J.S.R., left with his father after his grandparents were killed and a body was left in the family’s backyard in Honduras. The boy was held in freezing conditions with his father in Texas, had his father taken away while he was sleeping and was told falsely that his father was doing paperwork and would return soon, according to the lawsuit.
After his father was taken away, the boy was locked up with other young children for four days, crying constantly for his father. One immigration official told him he was going far away and would not be able to see his father, while another said he would be able to see his father often. Since the separation, the boy has suffered debilitating symptoms of trauma and does not sleep at night, the lawsuit said.
The girl from El Salvador, identified as V.F.B., came to the U.S. after the slaying of her stepfather. She was taken from her mother at a facility in Texas after she was told she was being taken to bathe, according to the lawsuit.