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WASHINGTON — A mother from Guatemala whose 7-year-old son was taken from her after they were detained for crossing the border illegally sued Trump administration immigration officials Tuesday, saying they will not tell her where her son is, even though she has now been released from custody.
Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia said in the lawsuit that she and her son crossed the border near San Luis, Arizona, on May 19 and sought asylum. They were detained by Border Patrol agents, her complaint said, and two days later, her son was taken from her.
After she was transferred to the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, she was told her son was in Phoenix at a facility run by HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement. She spoke to him once on the phone, she said, and he cried, "'Mama! Mama! Mama!' in a distressed voice over and over again."
She was released from custody on June 15 after posting bond, her legal filing said, but as of four days later, did not yet have her son back.
Her lawsuit asked the judge to order the government to reunite mother and child and other relief related to her case. She did not ask the court to declare the government's current overall practices illegal.
Her lawyer, John Shoreman of Washington, D.C., said her case "challenges the United States government's forcible separation of a parent from her young child, notwithstanding the threat of irreparable psychological damage that separation has been universally recognized to cause young children."
Based on the facts laid out in her complaint, it appeared she was not subjected to the entire "zero tolerance" policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, because she was never charged with a criminal offense for entering the country illegally.
Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that New York intends to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration on the grounds that the federal government is violating the constitutional rights of thousands of immigrant children and their parents who have been separated at the border.
The governor said he was aware of more than 70 children who are staying in federal shelters in New York and that number is expected to increase.
"New York will act and file suit to end this callous and deliberate attack on immigrant communities, and end this heartless policy once and for all," Cuomo said in a statement.