The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit on Friday accusing the U.S. government of separating immigrant families that seek asylum.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Diego, asks that a judge declare separation of families as unlawful. The lawsuit also says “hundreds of families” have been split up by immigration authorities.
In the lawsuit, there is talk of a Brazilian woman, who the ACLU says was separated from her 14-year-old son last August, who was given a 25-day jail sentence for entering the country illegally and later placed in certain immigration detention facilities in West Texas. The 14 year old was taken to immigration detention facilities in Chicago.
While there is no formal policy in place, officials have said that the separation of parents and children is set to deter others from entering America illegally.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment Friday after the papers were filed. However, the agency is performing many DNA tests to ensure that the people that entered the country illegally with these children are the biological parents of the children.
Tyler Houlton, the acting DHS press secretary, said government officials have to make sure the children are not victims of sex trafficking.
Some administration officials claim that border agents unlawfully deny individuals seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Others say that they believe the asylum process is deeply challenged by people making facetious claims.
A 2013 Georgetown report found that 150,000 children were separated from one or both parents as a result of US immigration policies. A 2011 ARC report estimated that at least 5,100 children currently living in foster care who are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents.
This lawsuit comes just days after the Justice Department announced that it was suing the state of California for violating certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution. It also follows the ACLU’s previous action in the case of a Congolese woman and her seven-year-old daughter.
Follow Kyle on Twitter