ACLU sues U.S. gov’t for separating immigrant families

SAN DIEGO — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a national class-action lawsuit in San Diego federal court Friday challenging the Trump administration’s practice of forcibly separating asylum-seeking parents and young children.

The filing broadens an existing ACLU lawsuit seeking to reunite an asylum-seeking mother and her 7-year-old daughter fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only to be forcibly torn from each other in the United States and detained 2,000 miles apart. Earlier this week, the government abruptly released the mother, who is waiting to be reunited with her daughter.

Reports surfaced in December alleging that the Trump administration was considering a new policy to separate border-crossing parents from their children as a way to scare others from seeking refuge in the United States.

“Whether or not the Trump administration wants to call this a `policy,’ it certainly is engaged in a widespread practice of tearing children away from their parents,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “A national class-action lawsuit is appropriate because this is a national practice.”