Six migrant 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 legal claims are the latest effort by immigrant-rights groups to punish the administration for the separations of thousands of children, which resulted from the Justice Department’s zero tolerance policy for illegal border crossers.
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.
“It succeeded with devastating consequences,” said Mark Fleming, associate director of litigation at the National Immigration Justice Center.
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.