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1/NEWS: We just filed legal claims on behalf of parents and children separated under the family separation policy, seeking damages for the trauma the Government intentionally inflicted. Some details below, and you can read the families' full stories here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
2/We're seeking damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Administration has made no secret that it inflicted trauma on parents & small children to "deter" others from coming to the US. They viewed the trauma as a useful tool.
3/The stories of our clients are immensely difficult to read. They conjure images of atrocities we could only associate with other countries. But they happened here, and our government must now compensate these families for the suffering it caused. Here’s a bit of their stories.
4/Leticia sought asylum with her 5 year-old daughter L.E.A. After they crossed, officials told Leticia they'd be taking her daughter away. Leticia and L.E.A. spent the night in a cell w/about 30 other mothers and their kids, lying on a concrete floor terrified of what lay ahead.
5/The next morning, officers began calling names of children. Each child was forced to line up against the wall with the other kids called. The officers said they'd give the kids a shower and then put them on a plane. Leticia clutched L.E.A. but the officers ripped her away.
6/For weeks, Leticia begged for info on her 5 year-old's whereabouts but was told nothing. They finally were able to speak a month after being separated. After yet another month, still separated, DHS told Leticia they would deport her, and they then put her on a bus to Arizona.
7/Leticia begged not to be deported w/out her daughter but officers ignored her pleas. Leticia filed an emergency motion to enjoin her deportation and the court granted it. Months more then passed. Only after 4 months of separation were Leticia and her 5 year-old finally reunited
8/You can read Leticia and L.E.A’s full, heartbreaking story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
9/Another parent, L.G., came to the US through an official port of entry seeking asylum with her 7-year-old daughter B.G. They did not unlawfully cross the border. CBP took them to a holding cell with more than 100 mothers and children, but only one toilet and no shower.
10/The next day, officers began calling the names of children who would be taken from their parents. They called B.G.'s name. L.G. was given no info about where her 7-year-old would be taken or for how long - she was told only that they were taking B.G. to a "better place."
11/Over the ensuing weeks, L.G. constantly asked about her daughter's whereabouts and well-being, but was given no information. It was only after 8 weeks that they were finally allowed a 2-minute phone call.
12/L.G. was finally reunited with her 7-year-old daughter after almost 2.5 harrowing months apart. They continue to suffer from the severe trauma they suffered. Doctors have found that L.G. exhibits symptoms of PTSD and B.G. shows signs of severe stress.
13/You can read L.G. and B.G.’s full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
14/Another parent, Elizabeth, sought asylum in the US with her 12-year-old Antonio. After they crossed the border and were apprehended, officers told Elizabeth she would be criminally charged and separated from Antonio. They told Elizabeth that Antonio was "no longer a child."
15/Elizabeth became overcome by grief over the following weeks. She could not stop crying or sleep or eat. Officials prescribed her Vistaril and forced her to take it against her will. After a month of being given no info about Antonio, they were allowed a single 5-minute call.
16/On the call, Antonio cried and begged Elizabeth to come get him but Elizabeth was helpless to comfort him. Elizabeth and Antonio ultimately were separated for nearly 3 months. They continue to suffer anxiety and panic attacks from the trauma inflicted on them.
17/You can read Elizabeth and Antonio’s full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
18/Another mother, C.M., sought asylum with her 5-year-old son. After they were apprehended on May 9, an officer told C.M. and three other moms that their kids would be taken and the mothers would be sent back to Guatemala. The officer then joked: "Happy Mother's Day."
19/Several days later, at 5 a.m., an officer ordered C.M. to wake up her son B.M, give him a bath, dress him, and then say goodbye. After C.M. did so, an officer pried C.M. away from her 5-year-old, who was clutching his mother's clothes as the officer ripped him away.
20/C.M. was given no information as to where B.M. had been taken. It was only 2 weeks later that she was allowed to speak with her 5-year-old son for a few minutes, and even then, she had no idea where he was.
21/B.M. turned 6 while at a shelter in NY. C.M. spent the whole day crying inconsolably at the thought of her son spending his 6th birthday scared and alone. C.M. fell into a near-paralyzing depression throughout her separation from her son.
22/C.M. and B.M. were reunited after 2.5 months apart. After they were reunited, B.M. told his mother that he thinks she brought him to the United States to give him away. B.M. remains terrified every time his mother leaves the house that he may not see her again.
23/You can read C.M. and B.M.’s full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
24/Another mother, Victoria sought asylum with her 6 year-old son, G.A. After being apprehended, CPB put Victoria in a holding cell with other parents and G.A. in a different cell with other kids. After a few days, the parents were told that their kids would be sent away.
25/An immigration official took the parents to a room w/a shower and told the parents to line up and bathe their kids. When the parents & children began to cry, the officer said: “Don’t cry today, today is a happy day. It’s Mother’s Day.” After the baths, the kids were taken away
26/Victoria was taken back to a holding cell with 77 other women for 4 more days. The cell had no beds and only one toilet and one sink for all 78 women. The government eventually transferred Victoria to another facility in Nevada.
27/At the Nevada facility, Victoria begged for information on her son's whereabouts, but was told nothing. Only after 1.5 months of separation was she allowed to speak with her 6-year-old son for the first time. There were finally reunited after 2.5 months apart.
28/You can read Victoria's full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
29/Another mother, Elena, sought asylum in the US with her 13 year-old son Luis. Like Leticia and L.E.A., Elena and Luis were brought to a holding cell where officials would enter and read the names of children to be taken to shower and then be sent away from their parents.
30/Luis' name was called at 4 a.m. one night. He was taken away, and Elena would not see him again for 77 days. Over that excruciating period, Elena and Luis were given little, if any, information as to when they would see each other again.
31/Elena has since been diagnosed by a psychologist with PTSD, which she continues to suffer from to this day. You can read Elena and Luis' full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
32/Another mother, E.O., sought asylum with her 17-year-old-son, J.O. After being apprehended, they were taken to a hielera in McAllen, TX known as the "dog pound." While officials interviewed E.O., J.O. was taken away without his mother knowing or any chance to say goodbye.
33/E.O. was removed back to Guatemala approximately ten days later without her son. She had no idea where he was or if she would ever see him again.
34/After J.O. asked to be voluntarily returned to Guatemala, DHS provided E.O a flight number on which her son would arrive. E.O. traveled several hours to the airport to meet him when his flight arrived.
35/E.O. stood at the arrival gate and watched as the passengers came off the plane. After the last passenger disembarked, E.O. realized to her horror that J.O. was not on the plane. E.O. later learned that J.O. was not allowed to board because his paperwork was not in order.
36/J.O. was eventually returned to Guatemala and reunited with his mother after 3.5 months apart. You can read their full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
37/Our final client filing a claim today, M.Z., came to the US with his 14-year-old son M.C. After being apprehended, they were taken to a hielera where an official told them that M.C. would be taken away. The official told M.Z. to say goodbye b/c he may never see his son again.
38/For the next two months, M.Z. received no information about his son's whereabouts or well-being. M.Z. and M.C. ultimately were reunited over 5.5 months after being separated. They continue to suffer physical and emotional symptoms of the trauma they endured.
39/You can read M.Z. and M.C.'s full story here: arnoldporter.com/en/perspective…
40/As a society, I think we've tried to forget about the family separation policy -- and to think its effects are behind us -- because it's just too upsetting to think about our government committing such cruel and evil acts.
41/But it happened, and these and thousands of other families are living with the consequences. It will be a long road to come to terms with what happened, but as an initial step, our government must compensate these families for the pain and suffering it intentionally inflicted.
42/Our firm @arnoldporter is proud to represent all of these families pro bono, and we are equally proud to partner with some amazing organizations on this effort, including @immcouncil, @NILC_org, and @TXCivilRights. END.
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