A Congolese mother detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after attempting to seek asylum in the US, then held 2,000 miles away from her 7-year-old daughter for four months, walked free on Tuesday, per the Washington Post. The ACLU reports her release comes just days after it filed suit to bring together the mother, who'd been kept in San Diego's Otay Mesa Detention Center, and daughter, held in a Chicago refugee resettlement facility. "We are thrilled that the mother has been released and look forward to the government immediately reuniting her with her daughter," says ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. "But there remain many other families who have been separated, and we will continue to attack this horrific family separation practice."
Gelernt tells the AP that orders for the mother's release came "from up top" in the Department of Homeland Security. Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, tells the Post that "obviously DHS was feeling some pressure" over the "unconscionable" separation. One logistical snag, per Gelernt: The mother was abruptly let out as a "mandatory release" without any arrangements as to where she'd go next, per the Chicago Tribune, which calls the case "absurd." Another lawyer was apparently able to quickly step in and get a hotel room for her, but Gelernt says he thinks "they won't reunite her with her daughter until she has a stable place," which is the ACLU's next goal. (ICE isn't happy with one California mayor.)