The story begins on Nov. 1, 2017, when "Ms. L" and "SS," her 7-year-old girl, arrived on US shores. They told the border agents at a port of entry near San Diego they had fled the Democratic Republic of Congo out of fear for their lives and were seeking asylum in the US. What happened next is the subject of a lawsuit filed Monday by the ACLU on the family's behalf: The ACLU charges that SS was taken from her mother within days of their arrival, with Ms. L able to hear the girl screaming for her in the next room. She hasn't seen her daughter since, and there are now 2,000 miles between the two, with Ms. L in San Diego's Otay Mesa Detention Center and SS in Chicago. More on the case:
- The ACLU's argument: It says there were no accusations or indications of abuse or neglect, and that the due process protections granted by the Fifth Amendment were violated because no hearing was held and no reason given for splitting the two up. The ACLU says the mother and daughter have had no contact other than some phone calls (about six, per the AP) and is seeking to have them immediately released (it says a nongovernmental shelter could house them) or, at the very least, reunited: "The Constitution and basic human decency demand it." Voice of America reports the Department of Homeland Security doesn't comment on pending lawsuits or specific cases.