A Mother and Child Fled the Congo, Only to Be Cruelly Separated by the US Government

On Nov. 1, 2017, Ms. L. and her 7-year-old daughter, S.S., arrived at a United States port of entry near San Diego and presented themselves to border agents. Ms. L. had fled with her child from their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Ms. L. left in fear for her life. Now, the pair was finally in the United States, seeking asylum in a country where they thought they would be safe.

Approximately four days later, Ms. L.’s young daughter was taken from her without any explanation or justification. When the officers separated them, Ms. L. could hear her daughter in the next room screaming that she did not want to be taken away from her mother. No one explained why her daughter was being taken away, where she was being taken, or when she would see her child again. More than 3 1/2 months later, Ms. L. remains at a detention center in the San Diego area, while her daughter is detained in Chicago, halfway across the country, without her mother or anyone else she knows.

Today the ACLU filed suit on behalf of Ms. L. and her daughter S.S. to secure their immediate release, or at least reunite them in a family detention center. Our suit argues that the separation of Ms. L. and her daughter is in blatant violation of the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment since the two were separated without justification or even a hearing.

In the time that they have been separated, Ms. L. has only been able to speak to her child a handful of times — always by phone, not video. In those calls, the young girl cries. She’s scared because she doesn’t know what will happen to her and her mother. Ms. L. tries to stay strong for her daughter, but, in reality, the stress and uncertainty of the situation have taken a huge toll on her as well. She struggles to eat and sleep, and she suffers from depression.

The government has no legitimate interest in separating Ms. L. from her daughter since there’s been no evidence, or even accusation, of abuse or neglect. Instead, there is overwhelming medical evidence that the separation of a young child from her parent will have a devastating, and possibly permanent, negative impact on the child’s well-being.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently denounced the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their parents, noting that: “The psychological distress, anxiety, and depression associated with separation from a parent would follow the children well after the immediate period of separation — even after the eventual reunification with a parent or other family.” Every day that this girl is separated from her mother causes her greater psychological harm, all of which can lead to permanent emotional trauma.

Because Ms. L. passed the initial asylum screening, which established that she had a “credible fear” of returning to the Congo, she and her child are eligible for release. But, even if there were some legitimate reason that the two couldn’t be released, Ms. L. and her daughter could be reunited in a family detention center. Instead, in flagrant disregard of the Constitution and common sense, the government has separated a young child from her mother.

It is a disgrace that a mother and child fleeing for their lives should be subjected to the trauma of separation by the very government from which they seek asylum. This cruelty must not go on any longer. Ms. L. and her daughter should be reunited at once. The Constitution and basic human decency demand it. 

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Anonymous

I have been to the Congo. I know the history of socio-political oppression and trauma. But how does traumatizing a child in the US make the US a better country? It does NOT. Timothy Leary, shame on your poor education.

Anonymous

You do realize the Dr. Timothy Leary you think you're arguing with died in May of '96. I don't know who this other clown is. This one appears to be just another heartless bastard trying to stir the stew pot.

Anonymous

Apply at at the American Embassy

Anonymous

This practice is inexcusable in America

We are the Land of Opportunity
Not the Land of Oppression

We are the Great Melting Pot
Not the Great Land of Fascists

This has got to stop

Trump Needs to GO!!!!!!!
Mueller already has the goods on him
He just needs a Blue House and Senate to finish the job

VOTE BLUE everyone

And when Trump is gone, demand that we go back to our Long Standing American Ideals

The Land of the Free
The Land of Opportunity
The Great Melting Pot

Debbie S.

What the hell? Is this the USA???? SO YOU STEAL A CHILD FROM IT'S MOTHER AND BOTH ARE IN DETENTION????????? EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE COMMITTED NO CRIME??????? NO. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!!!!!! WHOSE America is this?????!!!!! don't know. But it isn't my America.!!!!!!!!!!!!#!! DAMN this administration and every republican that supports his pathetic sorry no good ass!!!!! You will not win!!!! You can NOT win!!!! Evil slime!!!!!!!

Anonymous

Go get these monsters aclu! We cannot allow for continued victimization of innocent children! We are better than this.

Kenny

anonymous, don't hide

Anonymous

This woman is running for her life? how many countries did she have to pass before reaching the United States. its obvious she wanted to immigrate to the US, but she did not want to do it legally when you running for you life you dont pass 10 to 15 countries and head straight to the United States border. Just like the ones coming over the borders from Central America they are fleeing domestic violence then report it to law enforcement in your country go to court no they are fleeing to the US border and they pass many countries on there way here Panama Belize Costa Rica Mexico but straight to the us border am not fooled by there lies. ACLU lawyers are suckers for a sad story and those ppl know it.

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