Judge Orders Immediate Reunification of Immigrant Father and Two-Year-Old Son

Calls Government-Imposed Separation “Most Cruel of All Cruelties”

October 15, 2018, New York — Today, a federal judge ordered the immediate reunification of an immigrant father and his two-year-old son, after they had been held in separate New York detention facilities and barred from communicating for five months. Mr. C., a Honduran immigrant, and his two-year-old son are expected to reunite later today.

“My son and I were separated in different detention centers in cruel conditions for the last five months, after we were separated at the border in Texas,” said Mr. C. outside the courthouse after the hearing. “In this time I’ve felt desperation at not being able to see my son, but today, with the judge’s decision, I already feel the pain going away. I’ll be so happy to reunite with my son later this afternoon.”

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York issued the order after hearing arguments from attorneys for Mr. C. and the government, stating he did not understand “the rationale nor the humanity of this,” and that separating a father from his child was the “most cruel of all cruelties.”

“The court today recognized what we argued in our filings—that the cruelty of this family separation policy is tantamount to torture,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “We are grateful to the court for taking swift action to stop such a severe injustice.”

Mr. C. was released on bond on Wednesday, October 10, and the following day applied to reclaim custody of his son, who remained in a detention facility in the Bronx run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Mr. C’s release came a week after the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit challenging his and his son’s detention and separation pursuant to the Trump administration's cruel "Zero Tolerance" policy targeting non-citizen families. The case asserts violations of Mr. C.'s and his son’s rights to pursue asylum protections, unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and/or national origin, due process violations, and torture caused by the severe physical and mental suffering imposed by the detentions and separation.

Read more on the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

October 15, 2018