Lawsuit alleges migrant fathers were separated from children again after being reunited

Lawsuit alleges migrant fathers were separated from children again after being reunited
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A court filing on Saturday night alleges at least four migrant fathers were separated from their children again after being reunited with them briefly this week. 

The declaration, which was obtained by Mother Jones, was filed as part of the class-action lawsuit on behalf of migrant parents who wish to be reunited with their children. It alleges that the four fathers were given three choices when the government reunited them with their children: First, to be deported with their children; second, agree for the children to stay in the U.S. if the parent loses the immigration case; or third, to speak to a lawyer before making the decision.

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The fathers are claiming the first option was already selected for them. 

The allegation comes days after the government failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite families it separated at the southern border. The government reported that it has reunited 1,442 children ages 5 and older with their parents who were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and 378 have been “discharged in other appropriate circumstances,” including to a sponsor or to their parents in Department of Homeland Security custody.

But more than 2,500 children were separated from their parents at the border as part of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. Though President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE last month signed an executive order ending the policy, the federal government has scrambled to reunite families separated during its enactment.  

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday said as many as 468 separated parents had been deported without their children, and they are demanding the court reunite those families. 

One migrant father represented in the Saturday court filing, referred to as "F.G.," was allegedly reunited with his son in Texas on Wednesday. But within hours, immigration officials reportedly distributed the forms with three options.

When F.G. refused to agree to be deported with his son, he was removed from the area and separated from his son a second time, Mother Jones reported.

The testimony reports that ICE agents yelled at parents who tried to choose the option that would allow their children to stay in the U.S., or told them that they were not actually allowed to select that option.

"Asking parents in ICE custody, who are subject to a final order of removal, to make a decision about being removed with or without their children, is part of long-standing policy,” an ICE official told Vox. "ICE does not interfere in the parent’s decision to allow the child to remain in the U.S. to pursue his or her own legal claim."

Reports have emerged this week that parents who were deported without their children were often misled or lied to by immigration officials. Sometimes, officials presented deportation to parents as the only option and other times, they gave the parents forms in English, a language many of them do not speak.