In the past year ending June 29, the Trump administration has taken nearly 1,000 children – including babies and toddlers, from parents based on dubious “criminal history” allegations even though a federal judge barred separations except in cases of serious criminal conduct by a parent.
During a hearing in San Diego Tuesday, lawyers for the ACLU, told Judge Dana Sabraw that border authorities are systematically separating large numbers of families based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness, and errors in identifying parent-child relationships.
In papers filed with the court, the ACLU, which represents a class of parents originally separated from their children and trying to recover them, that the government is violating the judge’s June 2018 injunction barring separations except in extreme circumstances.
They asked the judge Tuesday to enforce the original terms of the 2018 injunction and to clarify the standard for separations to sharply curtain children being removed from parents for any reason except that parent is unfit or a danger.
The Dept of Justice now argues that their position is the original injunction did not allow them to separate families from the original class of 2,700 separated families based on any criminal history, but that it allows them to continue to separate families on an ongoing basis, no matter how insignificant the crime, the papers contend.
Children are being taken based on such offenses as traffic violations, misdemeanor property damage, and disorderly conduct violations, even if the allegations took place years ago and even if there were no convictions, the plaintiffs stated.
Of the list of 911 children taken from parents, 185 were children under five years of age and 13 were less than a year old. Over half were under age 10, with the average age of nine from the entire group, the court document states.
Case: Ms. L. v. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, No. 18-428