J.S.R. v. Sessions
V.F.B. v. Sessions
RELEASE AND FAMILY REUNIFICATION FOR IMMIGRANT CHILDREN
On Monday, July 2, 2018, Connecticut Legal Services and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School filed federal lawsuits seeking the immediate release and reunification of two children who are detained in Connecticut by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The children, ages 9 and 14, escaped persecution and violence in their home countries only to be forcibly separated from their parents by the U.S. government after crossing the southern border. They are held at a children’s shelter in eastern Connecticut – more than 2,000 miles from their parents, who are detained in Texas.
The traumatic separation of J.S.R. and V.F.B. from their parents is the result of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance policy,” which has subjected adult asylum seekers to criminal prosecution and forcibly separated parents from children for the express purpose of deterring asylum seekers from coming to the United States. Courts have ruled that the separation is profoundly damaging to the short-term and long-term mental, emotional, and physical health of vulnerable children, who lose their primary caregivers at a time of almost unimaginable stress and fear.
The lawsuits, filed in the District Court of Connecticut, cite constitutional and statutory grounds, including the constitutional right to family integrity, in challenging the Administration’s inhumane, illegal practices that have resulted in the harrowing dismantling of thousands of asylum-seeking families.
WHO ARE J.S.R. AND V.F.B.?
J.S.R. and V.F.B. are two of the more than 2,000 children taken forcibly from their parents at the southern border in the past months. They're the only two of those children held here in Connecticut.
J.S.R., age 9, fled Honduras with his father after his grandparents were murdered and a body was left in his family’s backyard. When J.S.R. arrived in the United States to seek asylum in June of this year, he and his father were locked in what J.S.R. describes as a “hielera” – an icebox – in a detention facility in South Texas. While J.S.R. was asleep, immigration agents took his father away and lied to the child about his father’s whereabouts. He has been detained in Connecticut since June 16. Since he got here, he has been allowed to speak with his father only once.
V.F.B., age 14, came to the United States with her mother seeking refugee from persecution in El Salvador, after her step-father was murdered outside the church where V.F.B. was praying. While V.F.B. and her mother were detained at a Texas facility, immigration officials sent the child to shower. When she returned, her mother was gone, and immigration authorities pretended not to know where she was. V.F.B. has been in Connecticut since May 16, and has been allowed to speak with her mother only once.
The forcible separation of children from their parents is a betrayal of U.S. law and Connecticut values. The Constitution State believes in family, freedom, and fairness. CLS went to court to hold our government accountable to our values, and to win release and reunification for two children who – like every one of our children – deserve Connecticut's love and support.
To learn more about CLS' litigation on behalf of J.S.R. and V.F.B., contact:
Connecticut Legal Services
62 Washington Street, Fourth Floor
Middletown, CT 06457
7/16/18: Government's Notice of Compliance