Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, February 11, 2019
Six illegal immigrant families filed multi-million dollar claims Monday against the Trump administration over last year’s family separations, saying they need the money to pay for counseling and other medical care to heal from the “torture” they said they suffered.
The families and their lawyers say the policy intended to inflict “emotional distress” on the parents and children, hoping it would make attempting to sneak into the U.S. so uncomfortable that fewer people would attempt it.
Under the zero tolerance policy, the Justice Department began to file criminal charges against most illegal immigrants for illegal entry, a misdemeanor, or re-entry, a felony. The administration said the goal was to create some consequences for families who were breaking the law but generally had been released under the previous policies.
But since the criminal justice system can’t hold families together, the parents were separated from their children, who were then deemed unaccompanied and were placed with the Department of Health and Human Services, which put them in shelters or sought sponsors to take them.
The claims were filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Monday’s action was a notification of claims, and the government now has six months to evaluate the claims and decide what to do.
If the migrants don’t find the government’s response satisfactory, they can file a lawsuit to try to enforce their demand.
Each claimant seeks $3 million.