Children’s Advocacy Organizations File Amicus Brief in Support of Asylum-Seeker Separated from Daughter

Groups Call the Separation ‘An Unconscionable Overreach of Government Power … and Threatens One of our Most Fundamental Social Constructs, the Family’

Contact: Wende Gozan Brown, 646-216-3329,

(New York) – Fifteen advocacy organizations today submitted an amicus brief in support of a Congolese asylum seeker who has been detained and separated from her 7-year-old daughter for almost four months.

According to the Amicus: “the separation of Ms. L and S.S. is an unconscionable overreach of government power violating fundamental principles of fairness, including substantive due process rights under U.S. constitutional law, and threatens one of our most fundamental social constructs, the family.”

On Monday the ACLU filed suit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies on behalf of the woman, charging that her family’s case is emblematic of the Trump administration’s illegal and immoral targeting of immigrant families seeking asylum.  The mother, detained in San Diego, has spoken with her daughter only six times since the girl was sent some 2,000 miles away, where she is held without any family in a facility in Chicago and worries about whether her mother is eating and sleeping properly in “prison.”

The amicus brief describes the irreparable harm that a child can suffer when torn away from a parent—especially under already-traumatic circumstances. Medical professionals assert that such traumatic stress can interfere with the development of brain architecture and increases the possibility of stress-related diseases and cognitive impairment for years to come.

“Tearing apart asylum seekers and their families is abhorrent and counter to child welfare practices, federal law and international laws and treaties,” said Sandy Santana, executive director of Children’s Rights. “It also stands in stark contrast to this Administration’s purported commitment to family values.” 

Signatories to the brief include a number of the most respected nonprofit children’s organizations: Children’s Rights; Children’s Defense Fund; Children’s Law Center of Minnesota; Dr. Luis Zayas; First Star, Inc.; Foster Children’s Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County; Juvenile Law Center; Lawyers for Children: Legal Counsel for Youth and Children; Pegasus Legal Service for Children; Prof. Michael J. Dale; The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare; The Center for Children & Youth Justice; The Children’s Advocacy Institute; and the Women’s Refugee Commission.

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