Five immigrant mothers are suing the United States government for millions of dollars in damages for the “psychological and physical harm” they claim they’ve suffered as a result of being held in detention facilities.
According to Fox News Latino, the tort claims filed Monday target the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The detained women allege that they and their children “received inadequate medical care, suffered psychological trauma and in some cases were wrongfully imprisoned.”
The claimants in the 60-page filing hail from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and include a woman who said “she received poor care for an injured ear because she could not speak to the medical staff in her indigenous language.”
ICE oversees two family detention centers in South Texas and another in Pennsylvania that currently hold about 1,400 people.
The filing comes just days after the government fought a federal judge’s ruling calling for the immediate release of children and their mothers from detention, saying it intends to turn the facilities into short-term processing centers and that limiting family detention could spark another surge in immigrants from Central America.
Tens of thousands of immigrant families, mostly from Central America, crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S. last summer. Many have petitioned for asylum after fleeing gang and domestic violence back home.
Andrew Free, a Nashville immigration lawyer representing the women, said ominously, “We expect this will be the first in a large set of filings on the mistreatment of these women and children on behalf of the government.”
The United States should be protected from such lawsuits by “sovereign immunity,” a legal doctrine by which the American federal, state, and tribal governments cannot be sued.
But Free wants to see an end to family detention for illegal immigrants, as do more than 170 House Democrats who have asked Homeland Security to stop the practice.
Immigrant rights organizations have filed complaints asking for investigations into the facilities, which include similar allegations of inadequate medical care and detention exacerbating or causing psychological trauma.
Although conditions in the detention facilities are no doubt deplorable, many would argue that it’s hard to sympathize with people who came here illegally.
Unfortunately, thousands of immigrants were encouraged to come here by the president’s immigration policies, as the Washington Free Beacon reported last summer:
A flood of illegal immigrant minors quickly followed the passage of Obama’s memorandum, entitled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The number of minors coming to the United States illegally jumped from 8,000 annually to 24,668, from 2011 to 2013. This year’s estimates are as high as 90,000.
While officials point to violence and poverty as the reason for sending children to the border, the parents of the immigrants say they were told their children would not be turned away.
According to the Daily Signal:
Accounts from those who have been encouraged to undertake the perilous journey from Central America to the United States confirm that the Obama administration’s actions were their driving force. According to an internal Border Patrol memo leaked last month, the main reason minors and women from Central America had entered the U.S. was “to take advantage of the ‘new’ U.S. law that grants a free pass or permit” to stay in the country.
Now, because they listened to Obama, these mothers and their children find themselves languishing for months on end in these horrible detention facilities.