‘It is not something I have seen a court do before…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A federal judge in California ruled last week that the federal government must provide mental health services to immigrants affected by President Trump’s family separation policy.
The Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies could have had damaging psychological effects, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ruled, and the federal government is accountable for any damages.
This means the government must make mental health screenings, psychological counseling, and other forms of treatment available to migrant families, ruled Judge John Kronstadt, according to the New York Times.
The Trump administration’s “deliberate indifference” to the well-being of these migrant families creates a kind of liability under the “state-created danger” doctrine, Kronstadt said.
The ruling follows a lawsuit filed by a group of migrant families affected by Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which alleged that they suffered “life-altering” trauma that could “continue to affect their mental and emotional well-being for years to come.”
Government lawyers argued that the “state-created danger” doctrine cannot apply in this case because there is no evidence of irreparable mental health damage.
Kronstadt disagreed and found that the implementation of the family separation policy caused “severe mental trauma to parents and their children.”
“This is truly groundbreaking,” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, told the Times. “The court is recognizing that when a government creates a danger that inflicts trauma, the government is responsible for providing a solution. It is not something I have seen a court do before.”
President Trump suspended the family separation policy in June 2018, but many critics have argued that hundreds of families still remain separated.
Trump officials have continued to defend the policy, pointing back to the Obama administration, which also enforced a family separation policy.
“Under all four administrations I have worked under, we have separated families for different reasons,” Carla Provost, Trump’s Customs and Border Protection chief, said last year. “Obviously, the welfare of the child is of utmost concern for us. And we are still separating if that is of concern. If the parent or the guardian has a serious, criminal history, we will still separate them as well.”