Biden Administration Makes Cruel Decision to Fight California Families Separated at the Border in Court 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

January 6, 2022  

Media Contact 

Sam Lew, 415-272-8022, slew@lccrsf.org   

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area   

***PRESS RELEASE***  

 Biden Administration Makes Cruel Decision to Fight California Families Separated at the Border in Court 

After withdrawing from settlement negotiations, U.S. government files motion to dismiss in lawsuit filed by California families separated at the border 

CALIFORNIA — In a betrayal of President Biden’s own campaign promises, the U.S. government sought to shield the Trump Administration’s family separation policy from judicial scrutiny in a Northern California federal court. In a motion to dismiss filed last night, the U.S. government asked a federal judge to throw out a case brought by three Bay Area families seeking to hold the government accountable for the harm they suffered when federal officials forcibly separated them at the border.  

This is the federal government’s first response to a family separation lawsuit since the Department of Justice abruptly shut down global settlement negotiations to resolve families’ claims in December.  

The plaintiff parents, Wilbur P.G., Erendira C.M., and Joshua G.G.*, and their children, filed suit in June 2021 against the U.S. government seeking damages for the harm federal officials inflicted on them by forcibly separating them at the border and subjecting them to harmful conditions of detention and medical neglect.   

I still live with the pain of my daughter being taken from me,” said Erendira C.M., an indigenous Guatemalan mother whose daughter who was six at the time of separation, and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “No family should ever suffer the way we suffered.”  

In August 2021, Ms. C.M. attended a meeting between separated parents and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Secretary Mayorkas told us that it was his job to support us after what we suffered. I feel betrayed and deeply sad now that they’re fighting us in court. We want justice and to make sure this never happens again.” 

“Actions speak louder than words, and by sending its lawyers to try to throw separated families out of court, the Biden Administration is effectively defending Trump’s cruel and unlawful family separation policy,” said Bree Bernwanger, Senior Immigrant Justice Attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

“The Trump Administration’s draconian policy of intentionally tearing asylum-seeking families apart has inflicted permanent trauma on children and their parents,” said Keker, Van Nest & Peters associate Christopher Sun. “The family separation policy was a humanitarian failure and a flagrant contradiction of long-standing U.S. law, which we will prove as this litigation continues.  

The families are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and Keker, Van Nest & Peters, LLP and filed the federal lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), a law that allows individuals to sue the U.S. government directly for injuries by federal agents. 

All three families entered the United States by crossing from Mexico into Arizona around May 2018, fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries in Central America. After undertaking harrowing journeys in hopes of exercising their right to seek asylum in the U.S., the U.S. government forcibly separated the three parents and children, ages 6, 11 and 13 at the time, without notice or explanation. Wilbur, Joshua, and Erendira spent weeks isolated in detention, not knowing if they would ever see their children again.   

### 

View the Motion to Dismiss here.  

View Christopher D. McGregor’s Declaration here.  

View Shawn J. Jordan’s Declaration here.  

View the Complaint here

*Names are changed to protect privacy 

Top