Family harmed by border separation policy is finally reunited after federal civil rights suit

July 05, 2018

Chief Communications Officer
Allison McClain

Boston, MA. An eight-year-old asylum-seeker, held in a detention shelter for nearly two months due to the government’s policy of family separation, has been reunited with her mother today. A civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia before the federal district court in Boston by Nixon Peabody LLP and the immigration law firm Demissie & Church. The ACLU of Massachusetts served as of-counsel on the brief.

Angelica and her daughter S.K. arrived in the United States together and sought asylum on May 9, 2018. Two days later, they were separated. When Ms. Gonzalez-Garcia was told that her daughter would be taken from her, an officer replied by saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” At that point, Angelica was transferred to another state, but the government refused to provide her with any information about S.K.’s location.

More than a week after they were separated, Angelica was finally informed, through her family, that her daughter was detained in a shelter in Texas. When Angelica was finally able to speak to her daughter – who had spent her eighth birthday alone in a shelter – she learned that S.K. had been physically injured by another detained child, leaving her bruised and in pain, had contracted an infection that was reported to be conjunctivitis, had suffered a high fever, and was extremely fearful.

After Ms. Gonzalez-Garcia was herself released from detention, she immediately settled with friends in Massachusetts and attempted to reunite with her child, yet, the government refused to release her daughter from detention.

The lawsuit, filed late last month, sought an order releasing the child on the grounds that the continued detention of the girl violated due process, equal protection, and other constitutional rights. The lawsuit has been voluntarily dismissed now that the family has been reunified. “We are very pleased with this outcome, and hope that the government will expedite its compliance with its legal obligation to reunify all these families without further delay,” said Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero, Nixon Peabody attorney and counsel to Ms. Gonzalez-Garcia.

Nixon Peabody attorneys Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero and Julia A.C. Lippman and Demessie & Church attorneys Susan Church, Heather Yountz, and Brittanie Allen served as counsel to the mother and daughter in this matter.

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