A Congolese refugee family has been reunited following months of separation, thanks to the advocacy of a Chicago news reporter and a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on their behalf and others similarly situated.
Aided by the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ms. L and her daughter left their home fearing possible death if they remained in the DRC. After arriving in San Diego, the mother followed all the rules established by the U. S. for asylum and was determined to have a strong case. Ms. L. lacked sufficient documentation to prove her family’s identity, which is not unusual for refugees who flee their homeland for safety elsewhere. Ms. L’s daughter was taken from her by Homeland Security and sent 1800 miles away to Chicago where she was placed in a camp for unaccompanied minors. The government contends the separation occurred because Ms. L could not prove the child was hers and as a precaution against the possibility of child trafficking. A simple DNA test would have confirmed their relationship.
The ACLU lawsuit contends that Homeland Security has separated hundreds of refugee families at the border without cause, but the government calls these separations “mistakes or coincidences.” Their explanation draws fire particularly because John Kelly, the current White House Chief-of-Staff, openly spoke about separating families as a deterrent to keep refugees from coming to the U. S. while he was head of Homeland Security.
According to the newspaper report, the question remains “Are there more [refugee] kids inexplicably removed from their parents by our government?” The ACLU believes there are hundreds more and will continue to pursue the issue in court.
Click here to review Chicago Tribune article on ACLU Lawsuit