Federal judge deems separation of immigrant children from their parents unconstitutional


A federal judge in Connecticut has ruled that the forced separation of two immigrant children from their parents is unconstitutional, and issued a preliminary injunction granting both children resources for coping with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from the United States government’s policy.

The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden on Friday, came in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 9-year-old boy referred to as “J.S.R.” in court documents and a 14-year-old girl called “V.F.B.” Both children were separated from their parents at the southern border of the U.S. as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy on immigration.

Since being separated from their parents both children have been in the care of Noank Community Support Services, a social service group based in Connecticut. According to medical professionals who testified during court proceedings, both children are dealing with PTSD and other psychological afflictions as a result of the separation.

“The court agrees that the government violated [the children’s] constitutional rights by forcibly removing them from their parents without due process of law,’’ Bolden wrote in his ruling. “The government failed to provide the children with notice or a hearing, instead taking their parents, while distracting the children.”

At an upcoming hearing on July 18 that will be attended by the parents of both children, both the plaintiffs and the government will be required to present a plan for addressing the children’s PTSD, “not only up to and including family reunification, but also after it,” according to the ruling.

Both of the children’s families had come to the U.S. after fleeing gang violence in South America, according to the Hartford Courant. J.S.R., the 9-year-old boy, left Honduras with his father after both of his grandparents were murdered. Dr. Andres Martin, a child psychiatrist who testified on behalf of the child, said that the boy had personally watched as his grandmother’s body had been thrown into a river with her throat slit.

Martin had also worked with the other child, V.F.B., according to the Courant, and said that she is “tearful, avoidant, and has a blunted and flat affect” after leaving to take a shower in a U.S. detention center only to discover upon returning that her mother had been taken from her.

Although Bolden ruled in favor of Connecticut Legal Services and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, which represented the children in the suit, he stopped short of ordering that the children be immediately reunited with their parents, citing a separate federal lawsuit that was handling that portion of the proceedings.

That separate lawsuit, Ms. L v. ICE., was deliberated by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego. On June 26, Sabraw ordered the swift reunification of all of the children who had been separated as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policies — an order the government has been struggling to comply with in a timely fashion.

In a Saturday statement to the Associated Press, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that the ruling could have “profound national significance if it paves the way for more humane and constitutionally acceptable treatment of these children.”

“I’m excited beyond words that the federal judiciary and our Constitution State are stopping this horrendous and inhumane injustice of separating children from their families,” he added.