More than 900 migrant children have been split from their parents since Trump formally ended family separations last year
- The federal government has separated more than 900 migrant children from their parents since President Donald Trump halted his administration's family separation policy last year, court documents say.
- Immigration authorities are legally allowed to separate migrant families at the border if they possess a criminal history or raise questions of parental fitness.
- But the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court documents on Tuesday that many of the parents who have endured this separation in recent months have violated little more than traffic laws.
- The organisation requested in its motion that a federal judge clarify in precisely which cases children should be taken from their parents - meaning only if the parent is truly dangerous to the child or unfit.
- For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.
Immigration authorities have separated more than 900 migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border in the last year, after President Donald Trump had formally ended the practice, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Trump signed an executive order in June 2018 halting the separations after his "zero tolerance" immigration policy drew nationwide outrage. But since then, authorities have justified certain family separations saying that the children's parents endangered them.
Immigration authorities are legally allowed to separate migrant families at the border if they possess a criminal history or raise questions of parental fitness.
But the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court documents on Tuesday that many of the parents who have endured this separation in recent months have violated little more than traffic laws and pose no danger to their children.
"The government is systematically separating large numbers of families based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness, and errors in identifying bona fide parent-child relationships," the ACLU wrote in the documents.
The organisation requested in its motion that a federal judge clarify in precisely which cases children should be taken from their parents - meaning only if the parent is truly dangerous to the child or unfit.
"It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents," Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement. "Over 900 more families join the thousands of others previously torn apart by this cruel and illegal policy. The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations."
It was previously unknown how many children had been separated since Trump's executive order, though teams of lawyers who recently visited border detention facilities said they witnessed a number of young children who had been separated from parents or other relatives.
Conditions at such facilities have recently drawn national scrutiny after the lawyers told media that that children were deprived of food, unable to clean themselves, and forced to take care of one another.
In May, the acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told lawmakers that family separations were "extraordinarily rare," and occurred only when the child was deemed to be at risk. He added that roughly one to three separations occurred daily, which he said was minimal compared to the more than 80,000 migrant families who crossed the border that month.
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