NJ Court: Border-Separated Families Can Sue Government

Talk of the Town Announcement

ROSELAND, NJ—The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey has denied efforts by the U.S. Government to dismiss claims by three migrant families who are seeking compensation under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) for the harms inflicted on them when their young children were forcibly taken away from them under the Trump Administration’s family separation policy (the “Policy”). This Policy resulted in the separation of more than 5,600 children from their parents between July 1, 2017, and January 20, 2021.

Although the Biden Administration has since rescinded and condemned the Policy, dozens of cases are pending nationwide as part of an effort to hold the government accountable for the mental, emotional, and physical trauma caused by these forced separations.

District Court Judge Michael Shipp ruled in a swift decision that the three cases pending in the District of New Jersey can proceed. The court rejected the government’s argument that the Court lacked jurisdiction over the cases as “inapplicable or presently lacking in factual support,” and agreed with plaintiffs that they had satisfied the requirements of the FTCA, which allows the government to be sued for torts. Finding that the plaintiffs had “plausibly allege[d] that the purpose of the [Family Separation] Policy was to terrorize children and their parents so that other Central American families would not come to the United States,” the court further held that plaintiffs could proceed with their claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, child abduction, abuse of process, assault and battery, and loss of consortium, among others.

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Judge Dan Hinde

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