DOJ seeks verification of mental suffering for
parents separated from children at border
Parents separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexican border under President Trump’s 2018 zero-tolerance policy are suing the U.S. for trauma they suffered as a result of the separations. Now the Justice Department is requesting that a federal judge require psychological evaluations to verify their suffering, reported CNN.
Under the zero-tolerance policy, when adults crossing from Mexico into the U.S. were apprehended and jailed, children, some of whom were infants, were taken.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit in 2019 on behalf of several affected families. The Justice Department walked away from a settlement with the families last December and went back to court.
Justice wants its own expert to examine the parents suing, though the department acknowledges the anxiety, trauma, and emotional distress the parents suffered. President Biden condemned the Trump Administration for its separation policy prior to the suits and referred to it as “outrageous behavior” warranting financial compensation. However, the President gave no specific details as to the amounts parents should receive.
“It’s bad enough that the Biden administration has not provided a meaningful settlement to the families … but now the Biden administration is using taxpayer dollars to hire doctors to try and diminish the harm,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.
In what the Justice Department refers to as “standard practice” for allegations of severe emotional injury, the psychological exam requested would consist of a clinical interview and a testing portion that includes a personality and emotional function test and a trauma-specific test.
“That is hardly consistent with President Biden’s statement that the separations were criminal and an historic moral blemish on our nation,” Gelernt said.
A government watchdog has found that children who were removed under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy experienced trauma, reported CNN. A Health and Human Services inspector general report from 2019 documented details describing inconsolable crying children who believed that their parents had abandoned them.
The Biden administration has created a reunification task force to help reunite families and provide services to those families. Parents have reunited with 487 children in the United States, but the parents of 151 children are still unaccounted for, said the report.