As the Trump administration continues to be accused of targeting immigrant families who are seeking asylum and separating them from their children, a Congolese woman who suffered the same fate and was detained has been released.
The woman in November last year arrived at a United States port of entry near San Diego with her 7-year-old daughter. The two presented themselves to border agents after fleeing from their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they feared for their lives. They had come to the United States to seek asylum and were initially kept together. But after about five days, the woman’s daughter was taken away from her without any explanation.
The woman remained at a detention centre in the San Diego area, while her daughter is detained in Chicago. She was there for about 3 and a half months until the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) filed a lawsuit on behalf of her and her daughter for their immediate release.
On Wednesday, March 6, the woman was released from a detention centre in San Diego under orders coming “from up top” in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. The child, however, remains about 2,000 miles away from her mother in a Chicago facility, he told the AFP. He said their efforts will now be towards obtaining the girl’s release and reuniting her with her mother.
Gelernt added that the ACLU will continue to litigate the lawsuit filed Feb. 26 in federal court in San Diego where it is seeking relief for other immigrant parents whose children have been separated from them.
In previous administrations, scores of people were charged with illegally entering or re-entering the U.S. They were often detained and separated from their children. But Gelernt and other immigrant advocates say the practice of detaining these asylum seekers and separating them from their children has become worse under the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton in a social media post on Sunday said people should be wary of claims by advocacy groups that parents and their children are being separated for reasons other than protecting the child.