Earlier this month, a federal district court judge in California ordered the federal government to provide free mental health screenings and treatment for parents and children who were traumatized after being forcibly separated at the border following the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance family separation policy. Under the policy, in just one month, 3000 children, “some as young as 18 months old and 100 less than four years old” were forcibly separated from their parents and scattered across the U.S. in shelters and other temporary housing overseen by HHS.
The injunction is the first of its kind to hold the U.S. government accountable for acting with deliberate indifference to a known or obvious danger, in this case, a state-created danger that was designed with the intent to deter immigration along the southern border of the United States.
The class-action lawsuit covers nationwide all adult parents nationwide who entered the United States at or between designated points of entry, who, (1) on or after July 1, 2017 were, are, or will be detained in immigration custody by DHS; and (2) have a minor child who has been, is, or will be separated from them by DHS and detained in DHS or Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody or foster care, absent a demonstration in a hearing that the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child. Currently excluded from the class are parents with a criminal history or communicable disease or those apprehended in the interior of the country.
The parties are expected to provide the court with an update on efforts to comply with the order by November 27, 2019. The government is expected to appeal.
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