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Federal Court Expands Family Separation Class Finding that Trump Administration Separated Families Long Before Zero Tolerance Policy

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“Simply put, Secretary Nielsen and President Trump need to make reuniting these families – all of these families – priority number one.” – Ur Jaddou/DHS Watch

Although DHS Secretary Nielsen has been busy lying about the existence of a family separation policy, on Friday, a federal court overseeing the family separation case found that the “most significant facts to come out of the [Health and Human Services Inspector General] Report are…that in the summer of 2017, DOJ and DHS were separating parents and children at the border pursuant to the Administration’s new policy…,” long before the May 2018 public announcement of zero tolerance. Despite a ruthless and callous opposition by the Trump administration, the court, therefore, ordered that the class action family separation lawsuit that began last spring be expanded to include the “thousands” of other separated families only recently identified to the court.  

Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch, a project of America’s Voice, said:

Remember, to this day Secretary Nielsen denies the existence of any family separation policy. She quibbles with Members of Congress about what constitutes a ‘cage’ and  ducks responsibility for the Trump Administration’s disastrous policies. She appears dismissive even about the great harm of child separation policies, that long-term damage is done to children and families separated and traumatized by policies her department implemented. Simply put, Secretary Nielsen and President Trump need to make reuniting these families – all of these families – priority number one.

In the hearing leading up to the court’s decision on Friday, the court reminded the Trump administration, “It’s important to recognize that we’re talking about human beings….Every person needs to be accounted for.” And in its decision, the court said, “The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders.”  

Furthermore, the court stated that the Trump administration’s “argument overlooks the profound importance of the reunification effort, which entailed a search for parents who had been separated from their minor children under questionable circumstances….”  The court also noted that the “difficulty in identifying proposed class members is the result of Defendants’ own record keeping practices, or lack thereof.”