March 16, 2018
CONTACT: Inga Sarda-Sorensen, 347-514-3984,

CHICAGO — The Congolese mother and her 7-year-old daughter at the center of a family separation case that sparked national outrage were reunited tonight.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought the federal lawsuit to reunite the mother (“Ms. L”) and child, who fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only to be forcibly torn from each other in the U.S. and detained separately 2,000 miles apart. The mother was held in San Diego, and the daughter was sent to a facility in Chicago, where she sat alone and traumatized for four months. The mom was released on March 6 and had been awaiting reunification.

“Ms. L” had this reaction to finally seeing her daughter after months of forced separation:

“It has been such a painful time. I am so grateful to be with my daughter again. I want to thank all the people who supported me and my daughter.”

Reports arose in December that the government was considering a new plan to separate border-crossing parents from their children as a way to scare others from seeking refuge in the U.S. The ACLU challenged the Trump administration’s family separation practice.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said:

“We are thrilled that mom and daughter have finally been reunited. It was cruel and unnecessary to rip them apart. No family should be forced to go through that, yet many are facing the same trauma right now. It’s why we’ve brought a national class-action case against the government.”

The ACLU lawsuit, Ms. L v. ICE, cites violations of the Constitution’s due process clause, federal law protecting asylum seekers, and the government’s own directive to release asylum seekers. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are among the named defendants. The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is co-counsel with the ACLU.

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