ICE releases asylum-seeking mother held for months separated from daughter

ICE releases asylum-seeking mother held for months separated from daughter
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A Congolese woman detained at the California-Mexico border and separated from her 7-year-old daughter was released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday.

The woman was detained after she and her daughter crossed border seeking asylum. Although she has been released from the detention center in San Diego, she has not been reunited with her daughter, who remains in Chicago, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (UCLU).

The mother and daughter were fleeing from violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and were separated, the ACLU said, to “scare others from seeking refuge in the U.S." 

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“We are thrilled that the mother has been released and look forward to the government immediately reuniting her with her daughter,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “But there remain many other families who have been separated, and we will continue to attack this horrific family separation practice.”

The order to release the mother came “from up top” in the Department of Homeland Security, the ACLU told the The Associated Press.

Now the ACLU is shifting its efforts toward reuniting the mother and daughter. The organization said it will continue to litigate its lawsuit aiming to reunite other immigrant parents with their children.

On Monday, Department of Homeland Security press secretary Tyler Houlton, in a response to and op-ed in The Washington Post, said via Twitter that the department “does not have a policy of separating women and children” and would only do so to protect a child.  

The mother and daughter crossed the southern border together in November and turned themselves over to Customs and Border Protection agents. They were initially kept together but after a few days were separated, according to the ACLU’s lawsuit.