Lidia Karine Souza, son Diogo: Brazilian Woman In Boston Area To Sue US.
A Brazilian woman staying in Massachusetts is suing the federal government to demand the release of her 9-year-old son after the two were separated at the border while she sought asylum.
Lidia Karin Souza entered the country legally with the permission of the Department of Homeland Security and passed an initial screening to claim asylum, say her attorneys, Jesse Bless and Jeff Goldman.
Despite this, Souza was detained, charged with unlawful entry and separated from her son, Diogo. Her attorneys say she was coerced into pleading guilty. She is now staying with relatives in the Boston area.
Her attorneys will be filing the suit in federal court in Chicago, where Diogo is being held. He celebrated his birthday last week there, said the attorneys.
At a press conference at Logan Airport on Monday morning, Bless said they have been able to determine that Diogo has not been feeling well and has had some medical shots, but they do not know anything beyond that.
He said Souza is devastated about the separation.
“She’s living minute to minute,” he said. “She’s living in pain.”
Goldman said new federal policy to reunite families who were separated at the border comes with a tough condition: The reunification will occur the moment the parent is deported, not while the parent’s case is wending its way through immigration court.
Souza has the right to apply for political asylum and to have her child with her, he said.
She will have to plead her case in front of an asylum officer and perhaps an immigration judge — a process that could take weeks to months to years, said Goldman. And he said there is no plan for a possible reunification with her son.
“This is not zero tolerance,” he said, referring to the Trump administration’s so-called zero tolerance policy. “This is zero thought.”
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they do not comment on pending litigation.