Federal Judge Sets Hearing for Mother Separated From 9-Year Old Son At Border
In Justifying Delay, Government Claims Child “Has Not Demonstrated Any Mental Health Concerns As A Result Of Being Separated From His Mother.”
WHAT: A federal court hearing in an emergency lawsuit to reunite a 9 year-old boy who was forcibly separated from his mother by federal government officials at the U.S. border. The child – held in a facility in Texas – has been separated from his mother for more than 40 days. At the hearing, we will seek the immediate release and return of this child to his mother.
WHO: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, Brazilian Worker Center, and WilmerHale.
WHEN: Thursday, July 12 at 3:15 PM
Moakley Courthouse, Courtroom 22
U.S. District Court
The mother and child, identified in court papers as W.R. and A.R., surrendered themselves to immigration officials on the U.S. border and immediately explained that they were fleeing Brazil after enduring a harrowing campaign of domestic violence at the hands of an abusive husband. The mother sought refuge in the U.S. after her husband threatened her life and tried to entangle their child in drug activity.
To justify the separation, the government claims that the boy “has not demonstrated any mental health concerns as a result of being separated from his mother.” This assertion has been forcefully rebutted by mental health and pediatric experts from Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Association of Social Workers.
“My son begs me to come get him. He says he is alone. I haven’t held him in my arms for more than 40 days. I am worried about him. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat,” said W.R.
“As a 9-year old, I was brought to the United States by my mother, a single mom. It terrifies me to think about A.R.’s situation — alone in an unfamiliar place without the comfort of his mother. It is brutal. It is illegal. This is part-and-parcel of a deliberate government campaign to punish immigrants. The Trump Administration is illegally seeking to defeat the viable asylum claims of immigrant parents by encouraging their self-deportation to be reunited with their children,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
“This is systematic terror targeting immigrant families. This heart-breaking story is not an isolated incident. We are working right now to help unify nearly a dozen families forcibly separated at the border. The federal government must respect the rights of immigrant parents and children,” said Natalicia Tracy, the Executive Director of the Brazilian Worker Center.
“Additionally, the government is prolonging the separation here because W.R. and A.R. are survivors of domestic violence. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is using the abuse allegations against A.R.’s father, who remains in Brazil, to justify the imposition of additional process requirements on W.R.,” said Jocelyn Keider, attorney at WilmerHale and counsel for W.R.
“With each new requirement comes further delay on the government’s part. W.R. has complied with every government request as promptly as possible, and yet the list of things she must do to be reunited with her child continues to grow. This is why we are seeking emergency relief from the court,” said Lucy Heenan Ewins, attorney at WilmerHale and counsel for W.R.