On Thursday, a new filing was added to the immigration case Ms. L v. ICE that revealed the Trump administration is prohibiting separated parents who were tricked into waiving their asylum rights from returning to the U.S. to continue their asylum cases and reunite with their children.
In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement to reunite an asylum-seeking mother and her seven-year old daughter. The pair fled to the U.S. to escape violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but were torn apart at the border and detained 2,000 miles apart. Ms. L and her daughter were reunited in March due to the class action lawsuit, requiring the Trump administration to reunify the families separated at the border. However, the national class action lawsuit in this case is far from over.
The new filing that was added Thursday supplies a notice concerning the reunification of already-removed parents with their children who remain in the U.S. In the notice, the ACLU writes, “The Plan does not address or resolve the right of removed parents to be reunified with their children in the United States. The Reunification Plan assumes that all removed Class Members who are reunified will be reunified in their country of origin, not the United States.” However, the ACLU goes on to reveal that some families can only be reunited by returning the parent to the U.S.
For example, numerous parents were reportedly coerced into waiving their right to seek asylum with the promise of being reunited with their child before they were deported. Some were tricked into believing that “asserting their asylum claim would delay or preclude reunification.” Now, for all of those parents who are back in their countries of origin and still separated from their children, the government is not allowing them to re-enter the U.S. to reunite with their children and continue their asylum cases. The ACLU is arguing that these parents have a right to pursue their asylum cases as they would have if the government hadn’t taken away their children. The ACLU also notes that the separated children have a right to have a parent with them as they go through their asylum cases, meaning the parents would have to be allowed back into the U.S. However, the Trump administration continues to block these parents from re-entering.
The notice reads:
In addition, the Plaintiffs in the M.M.M. litigation have argued that children who came to the United States with their parents have a right to seek asylum either alone or jointly with their parents, and a further right to their parents’ assistance in presenting their asylum claims. Thus, if the M.M.M. plaintiffs prevails, parents and their children can present their asylum claims as they would have been able to had the Government not separated them. In such cases, reunification in the United States may be required.
As of Aug. 9, 559 migrant children have yet to be reunited with their parents after the Trump’ administration’s zero-tolerance policy separated 2,551 immigrant families at the southern border.