The Trump Administration Is Being Sued For Damages Related to Their Family Separation Immigration Policy

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 17: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One to travel to New York, at the White House on August 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump will attend a fundraiser event in West Hampton Beach, New York. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A new class-action lawsuit argues that the U.S. government should cover mental health treatment costs for immigrant children who were separated from their parents. The suit, filed by a group of lawyers in Federal court, also demands unspecified damages for the children who were separated under Trump’s now-defunct zero-tolerance border policy.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. This is just the latest move to unravel the damage caused by Trump’s reactionary policy.  Previously, a California Federal judge ordered the end of forced separations between immigrant children and their parents. That judge also ordered the reunification of families who were already separated.


Many professionals agree that the children are vulnerable to long-term mental health consequences due to the trauma from Trump’s policy. The suit states that the resulting trauma “was life altering and it will continue to affect their mental and emotional well-being for years to come."

According to an official count presented in court filings in late August, approximately 500 children remain separated from their families. Officials, in conjunction with cooperation from the ACLU, have been working to reunite the children with the deported parents.

The lawsuit asserts that simply reuniting children with their families does not do enough to address the underlying trauma that was initially caused by the policy.

"The damage is unbelievable, and the focus has been on reunification because, of course, the judge has ordered that. But now it's about restoration. And that is something the government is not taking responsibility for, but so desperately needs to be done, and we're here to make sure that happens," said attorney Jesse Bless.

When the policy was initially announced, a number of prominent health experts and medical professionals spoke out against the zero-tolerance policy.

According to Dr. Colleen Kraft, the head of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the policy was "nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse. It's creating a whole generation of kids who are traumatized.”

Although the focus is now on reunification, a great deal of long-term damage has already been done. “The reunification process has been chaotic and has unequivocally come at a cost,” said Beth Krause, a supervising lawyer at the Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Project.

Current members of the Trump administration claim that the chaotic nature of the reunification process actually benefits the children. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and HHS secretary Alex Azar claim that they are housing the children for their own well-being. “Throughout the reunification process our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment,” Nielsen, Sessions, and Azar said in a statement to Reuters.

The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the current lawsuit or the alleged mental health effects. Spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer stated that the agency does not comment on active or pending lawsuits.

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, the consensus among the medical community, as well as many advocacy groups, is that the trauma created by Trump’s policy will have long-term effects for the children who were forcibly removed from their families.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Donald Trump has made 16,241 false statements and counting. With such a stream of falsehoods deployed daily upon the public, it's easy to imagine that fact-checkers are constantly exhausted.

The ones at Politifact don't seem fazed.

At a Wednesday night rally in New Jersey, President Donald Trump revived his long-sought and heretofore undelivered promise that Mexico would pay for the southern border wall—a pillar of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Keep reading...
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Daily Front Row // Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Former Republican Congressman and current host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, left the Republican party in July of 2017—around six months after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Since then, he's used his show to call out the President's (16,000+ and counting) lies—and Tuesday night was no different.

Keep reading...
Fox News

After weeks of enduring the impeachment trial against him in the Senate, President Donald Trump was likely grateful to be in a venue filled with people willing to praise him.

The President spoke at a rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, but at multiple points during the speech, his words got ahead of his thoughts.

At one point, Fox News—which was covering the event—decided to cut away, amid stifled laughter from the hosts.

Keep reading...
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The United States, unlike North Korea and other nations President Donald Trump admires, does not have an official state media channel where the federal government can push propaganda.

But since his 2016 campaign, Trump has spoken as though he does have an official state media in Fox News.

Keep reading...
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Retired General John Kelly served as President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff until late 2018, and now he's siding against Trump on a crucial point.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton's allegations in his upcoming memoir have rocked the impeachment trial in the Senate. Bolton claims Trump sought to withhold aid from Ukraine until it acquiesced to performing politically beneficial investigations for Trump's reelection bid.

Keep reading...

As calls continue to grow for former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify before the Senate in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is feeling left out.

Demands for Bolton's testimony skyrocketed among the public after allegations in his upcoming memoir that Trump sought to withhold Ukrainian aid as late as September to secure foreign investigations into Trump's political rivals.

Keep reading...