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Constitutional Rights and the Public’s Health

Ms. J.P. et al. v. William P Barr


Ms. J.P. et al. v. William P Barr (U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Nov. 5, 2019):A California district court ordered the federal government to provide a class of migrant parents subject to the “family separation policy” with mental health screenings and appropriate treatment for mental health conditions caused by the policy. The parties agreed that detainees currently under the government’s control have due process rights to adequate medical care. Parents asked the court for injunctive relief arguing adequate medical care includes evidence-based mental health and trauma services—during and after release from custody—to treat “substantial trauma” caused by the separation policy. The court concluded the parents were likely to succeed on the merits of their due process claims. Parents separated from their minor children at the border, who are in federal custody or will be in the future (the “custody subclass”), presented substantial evidence that the policy placed them at substantial risk of serious mental health injury and federal officials alleged to be responsible for the separation policy showed deliberate indifference to these risks. The court also ordered screening and treatment for parents subject to the family separation policy but who had been released from custody (the “released subclass”).  Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – December 13, 2019.

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