A 14-month-old baby boy separated from his parents by U.S. officials at the Mexican border was finally returned to his mother dirty and covered with lice 85 days later, according to one of several chilling accounts in documents filed in a lawsuit motion. The suit, filed last week by 17 states and the District of Columbia against President Donald Trump and federal agencies, calls for migrant children and parents to be reunited.
The boy’s mother, Olivia Caceras, is quoted as saying that it didn’t appear that the baby had been bathed during his nearly three-month stay in federal custody as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on separating undocumented immigrants from their children.
The baby “continued to cry when we got home and would hold on to my leg and would not let me go,” said the mom, whose account was included in some 900 pages of testimony from various family members and children filed Monday, PBS Newshour reported. “When I took off his clothes, he was full of dirt and lice. It seemed like they had not bathed him the 85 days he was away from us.”
Caceras told PBS reporter Lisa Des Jardins that her son “is not the same since we were reunited. He does not separate from me. He cries when he does not see me ... he cries for fear of being alone.”
Federal officials aren’t responding to the accounts of treatment in the lawsuit because of the ongoing litigation, they told PBS.
The suit, which calls the separation of immigrant children from their parents unconstitutional, is demanding an end to the practice. It is also calling for the creation of an immigration process that doesn’t detain asylum-seekers.
Trump signed an executive order June 20 countermanding his own policy. But some 3,000 migrant children remain in government custody after being separated from their parents, and 100 of them are under the age of 5, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.
The New York Times reported that some records on the separated families have been lost or even destroyed, raising the possibility that some children may never be reunited with their parents. The government has deported at least 19 parents of children that are under the age of 5 and in federal custody.
A federal judge ordered the Trump administration last week to reunite children with their parents within 30 days, and within 14 days for children under the age of 5.
HHS asked Friday for an extension and argued that it shouldn’t be required to reunite children with parents already deported. Judge Dana Sabraw, who set the deadlines, hasn’t yet decided on an extension but did say the government must reunite children with their deported parents.