A distraught immigrant boy nearly jumped out a window after being separated from his family, lawsuit says

source
Administration for Children and Families at the US Department of Health and Human Services

  • Seventeen states sued the Trump administration on Tuesday over its now-halted practice of separating migrant families that illegally cross the US-Mexico border.
  • The lawsuit seeks to force the government to reunite the thousands of separated families.
  • The filing is teeming with heart-wrenching stories about traumatized children, including one of a South American boy who was said to have wanted to jump out a window because he missed his family.

A distraught South American boy who was separated from his family under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy was rushed to the hospital after he said he wanted to jump out a window because he missed his parents, a new lawsuit alleges.

Seventeen states sued the Trump administration on Tuesday over its now-halted practice of separating immigrant families that cross the US-Mexico border illegally. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Seattle, aims to force the government to reunite the thousands of families it split apart – and permanently cease family separations.

“Defendants have made clear that the purpose of separating families is not to protect children, but rather to create a public spectacle designed to deter potential immigrants from coming to the United States,” the complaint said, adding that the policy was “causing severe, intentional, and permanent trauma to the children and parents who are separated in furtherance of an illegitimate deterrence objective.”

Though the government says it has reunited more than 500 children with their families already, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress on Tuesday that 2,047 children were still being held in the agency’s custody.

The lawsuit was teeming with heart-wrenching stories of traumatized children desperate to reunite with their parents. The South American boy had been forcibly separated from his father at the US-Mexico border early this month and was living in a group home in New York City, the filing said.

The suit alleges the boy was just one of 13 young children who were treated at hospitals for physical and mental illnesses. Some of them were said to be treated for depression and anxiety.

The lawsuit accused the Trump administration’s policy of undermining New York state’s interest in the health, safety, and well-being of all children who live there “by causing severe trauma to these children.”

The lawsuit pointed out that New York children who live in foster care were afforded more rights than their immigrant counterparts, allowed regular visitation rights even with one or both parents incarcerated.

The lawsuit said that because of what it called the Trump administration’s “illegal policy,” separated children in New York were being treated differently from other children in foster care in the state, “to their great detriment.”