The American Civil Liberties Union told a judge Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration has separated more than 900 migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border since June 2018, despite a court order for the government to slow down the practice.
In its 200-plus-page filing, the ACLU alleges that the government has separated 911 children by way of a loophole the court allowed for children whose parents had a criminal history or showed signs of disease or neglect.
“The government is systematically separating large numbers of families based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness, and errors in identifying bona fide parent-child relationships,” the ACLU wrote, asking the judge to clarify what conditions should apply to the exception.
Some of the criteria the government has cited, The Washington Post reported, include a child with an unchanged diaper, a parent with a speech impediment and a parent convicted of causing $5 in property damage. In another instance, a 9-year-old was reportedly separated from her father because U.S. border officials wrote the wrong name down on her intake form.
The Houston Chronicle reported on similar instances of dubious separations last week.
“The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations,” Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who filed the motion, said in a statement.
The nearly 1,000 child separations outlined by the ACLU happened despite acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan telling Congress earlier this month that family separations are now extremely rare.
McAleenan has refused to respond to individual instances of separations like those raised by the ACLU filing.