Family separation victims demand millions in damages from Trump administration

A mother from Guatemala, identified only by initials, L.J., who was separated from her two children after entering the U.S. in May of 2018, sits at a table after speaking to reporters about the separation during a news conference, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, in Boston. L.J. is among plaintiffs in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump's administration, seeking monetary damages on behalf of children who were separated from their parents at the border. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Victims of the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy have filed claims against the Trump administration, demanding millions of dollars in damages for “inexplicable cruelty,” The Guardian reports. “The government was harming children intentionally to try to advance what it viewed as a policy objective,” attorney Stanton Jones said. “It’s heinous and immoral, but it’s also a civil wrong for which the law provides a claim for relief.”

One claimant among the six families in the legal action alleged that she was taunted with “Happy Mother’s Day” as her 5-year-old was ripped out of her arms. Other claimants say that while their children have been returned to them, they are horrifically traumatized. “My daughter is not the same,” said Leticia. “To this day, if she drops something at home, she cries and begs me not to get mad at her or hit her.”

Another group of mothers had previously sued the administration for the costs of mental health counseling. The government’s response was to ask the courts to toss the lawsuit. “The Government does not owe a free-standing duty to provide medical care to former detainees,” said DOJ attorney Michael Heyse. In a truly just world, not only would these families have all the resources they need to heal, but they’d also see the perpetrators locked up.

We must also remember that family separation imposes further violence on asylum seekers who were already dealing with traumatic experiences. Claimants have experienced “symptoms consistent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to experts who examined them. Many continue to experience severe anxiety and other harmful effects,” attorneys say. “It was the worst moment of my life,” Leticia continued, “when officers tore my crying daughter from my arms.”

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