Separated migrant families demand millions from US agencies

Seven-year-old Andy (C) is reunited with his mother, Arely (R), at Baltimore-Washington International Airport July 23, 2018 in Linthicum, Maryland. (AFP)
Updated 12 February 2019
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Separated migrant families demand millions from US agencies

  • The claims were submitted to the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services under the Federal Tort Claims Act

HOUSTON: Eight immigrant families demanded millions of dollars in damages Monday from the Trump administration for separating them, including a Guatemalan woman who alleged an officer said her 5-year-old son would be taken and then taunted, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
In claims filed with the US government Monday, the parents accused immigration officers of taking their children away without giving them information and sometimes mocking them or denying them a chance to say goodbye. The claims allege that many children remain traumatized even after being reunited with their parents, including a 7-year-old girl who won’t sleep without her mother and a 6-year-old boy who is reluctant to eat.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration has acknowledged it separated more than 2,000 families last year through the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy intended to crack down on Central American migration at the US-Mexico border. Government watchdogs have also said it’s unclear how many families were separated in total because agencies did not keep good enough records as the policy was implemented.
In her claim , the Guatemalan woman alleges she was detained in May with her son in a type of temporary detention facility nicknamed a “hielera,” or icebox in Spanish. The immigration officer who taunted her and three other women told them the law had changed, that their children would be taken away, and that they would be deported, the claim alleges.
The woman says another immigration officer woke her up at about 5 a.m. days later, ordered her to bathe and clothe her son, and then took her son into another room. The woman says she begged not to have her son taken, then asked that the two be deported together to Guatemala rather than separated. Her son only spoke the indigenous Guatemalan language of Mam.
“The officer laughed,” the claim says. “He made fun of her indigenous accent and said, laughingly, ‘it’s not that easy.’“
They were reunited in July, but then placed in a family detention center. They were released in November.
Stanton Jones, a lawyer for the families, said the families were entitled to monetary damages because of the government’s “inexplicable cruelty.”
“The government was harming children intentionally to try to advance what it viewed as a policy objective,” Jones said. “It’s heinous and immoral, but it’s also a civil wrong for which the law provides a claim for relief.”
The claims were submitted to the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The act gives government agencies six months to respond before a potential lawsuit, Jones said.
HHS spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said the department couldn’t comment on the claims, but that HHS “plays no role in the apprehension or initial detention” of children referred to its care, including children who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities.


Man arrested for London mosque shooting

Updated 23 May 2019
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Man arrested for London mosque shooting

  • The suspect was charged with possession of firearms with intent to cause harm or fear
  • Police say the suspect may have had a fight earlier in a nearby street

DUBAI: A man has been arrested after he fired a gun in a London mosque, UK daily The Metro reported.

The man entered the Seven Kings Mosque in London, on Thursday, May 9, while worshippers performed Ramadan prayers and fired a gun, the report added.

He was arrested on charges of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
There were no reports of injuries or damages to the building, ballistic evidence suggests the detainee may have used a blank-firing handgun, police said.

Police investigations said it is possible the incident started after an earlier argument in a nearby street.

A mosque attendee, Ibraheem Hussain, said he heard the gunshot almost half an hour after prayers began, adding that he was concerned for the safety of worshippers.

“(Christchurch) comes to mind, it’s crazy to think this would happen in London, especially after everything that has happened,” he told Metro.