Lawsuit: Migrant child returned to parent with lice after 85 day separation
A migrant mother said her 14-month-old son was “full of dirt and lice” after being separated from his family for months by the Trump administration.
Olivia Caceras’s claims are included in a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s immigration policy separating families that was filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia, PBS News Hour reported Thursday.
Caceras’s testimony is one of many in the nearly 1,000-page court filing.
Caceras said she was separated from her son for roughly 12 weeks before they were reunited.
“He continued to cry when we got home and would hold on to my leg and would not let me go,” Caceras said in her testimony, as reported by PBS. “When I took off his clothes, he was full of dirt and lice.”
“It seems like they had not bathed him the 85 days he was away from us,” she added.
The administration would not comment to PBS on the allegations because of pending litigation.
PBS reported that while it is hard to prove Caceras’s claims, there is a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter for children at the location where Caceras said her child was held.
The lawsuit also accuses the Trump administration of housing detained migrants in cramped and freezing cells and the guards of unnecessary cruelty and psychological and verbal abuse.
A maximum of “under 3,000” children were separated from their parents at the U.S. border under Trump’s zero tolerance policy this year, according to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Roughly 100 of those children are younger than 5 years old, Azar said.
The agency said they are working to comply with a court mandate to reunify immigrant families separated under Trump’s policy by a court deadline.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ruled late last month that the Trump administration had two weeks to reunite children under 5 with their parents and had 30 days to complete the reunifications for older children.
The motion came after nationwide outcry over a policy that separated families in order to prosecute all migrants who enter the country illegally across the southern border.
Trump signed an executive order to end family separations but thousands are still awaiting reunification.