Originally published by The Washington Post
WHAT, EXACTLY, did a 7-year-old Congolese girl do to the United States to deserve the trauma that has been visited upon her — including forcible separation from her mother — by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and her immigration agents?
There is no allegation that the little girl, known in court filings only as S.S., is a terrorist, nor is there any suggestion her mother is one. Neither was involved with smuggling, nor contraband, nor lawbreaking of any other variety. Rather, S.S.’s 39-year-old mother presented herself and her daughter to U.S. officials when they crossed the border from Mexico four months ago, explaining they had fled extreme violence in Congo, and requesting asylum.
A U.S. asylum officer interviewed Ms. L, as the mother is called in a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, determined that she had a credible fear of harm if she were returned to Congo and stood a decent chance of ultimately being granted asylum. Despite that preliminary finding, officials decided that the right thing to do was to wrench S.S. from her mother, whereupon the mother “could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother,” the lawsuit states.