The Trump administration’s new policy of separating children from their parents accused of crossing the U.S. border illegally has been called immoral by many democrats over the past week. Now some are saying it’s illegal.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York State will sue the federal government over their practices of detaining immigrant children. There are at least 70 children who are staying in federal shelters in New York, many of them on Long Island.
Cuomo said he doesn’t think the government should use the police agency ICE as a political apparatus.
“We’ve had a number of experiences with ICE in this state where we believe they violate people’s rights, where they are overzealous, that they are pursuing the federal government’s political agenda, and using their police power to do it. This situation with their ‘zero-tolerance’ policy of separating children from their families is reprehensible,” Cuomo said.
The Trump administration said the family separations are required under the law. Cuomo sees it as a political statement.
“I have never seen children being used as a bargaining chip in this kind of a negotiating. The estimate is that 2,000 children are being held,” he said.
Children are in at least 10 different facilities across the state. It’s being done under the UAC program-- the unaccompanied alien child program, but Cuomo said that title is misleading.
“These are not unaccompanied alien children. These are children who were separated from their parents.”
The intended suit against the federal government is grounded on three theories. One of them states it’s a violation of the constitutional rights of parents who want to care and protect their children.
Cuomo said according to the federal constitution it’s a fundamental right, which means it would apply to people who are not citizens of the country.
“The best interest of the child is what governs,” said Cuomo. “The presumption is the parental care is in the best interest of the child, unless the government can prove otherwise.”
The lawsuit further claims it violates the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which set national standards regarding detention.
The third theory claims the federal government’s zero-tolerance policy serves no national security purpose and should be kept in check by due process.
Cuomo said the state offered mental health and health aid to the children, but the feds "gagged the facilities" and now the state will have to go through a lengthy application process instead.
Legal action will be taken by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services. The lawsuit is expected to be filed within two weeks.