Immigrant mothers who claim they have been physically and psychologically harmed by being held in detention with their children are seeking damages from the United States government that could run into millions of dollars. Nashville immigration lawyer Andrew Free filed tort claims on Monday against the Department of Homeland Security, claiming the five mothers and their children suffered psychological trauma, have been given inadequate medical treatment and have sometimes been wrongly imprisoned.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection are also targeted by the tort claims, which are a precursor to a full federal lawsuit. The filing of the claims comes just days after the government’s attempt to fight the ruling made by a federal judge to immediately release mothers and children from detention, claiming that another surge in Central American immigrants could be sparked by such a move.
Immigrant families, mostly from Central America, came in their tens of thousands to the United States in the summer of 2014. Free is claiming that the US government has failed to provide an adequate standard of care and has violated the families’ rights by attempting to use detention as a form of deterrent.
Over 170 Democrats in the House of Representatives have asked the Department of Homeland Security to put an end to family detention. Similar complaints about psychological damage due to detention and a lack of adequate medical care have also been made by immigration advocates, who are demanding an investigation.