Immigration Law

Family Separation Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed

Texas Civil Rights Project, Aug. 19, 2019

"Contact: media@texascivilrightsproject.org

Read the Original Complaint here.

McAllen, Texas — The Texas Civil Rights Project and the Escamilla Law Firm filed a lawsuit against the federal government and Starr County in South Texas over the wrongful death of Marco Antonio Muñoz in the county jail after he was separated from his child due to the zero-tolerance policy. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Mr. Muñoz’s wife and two-children. 

Mr. Muñoz came to the United States in mid-May of 2018 with his wife and 3-year-old son fleeing violence in their native Honduras. They were apprehended by Border Patrol agents who reportedly used physical force to take the child out of his arms. Border Patrol agents then transferred Mr. Muñoz to the Starr County Jail in Rio Grande City where he was found dead the very next day. 

The lawsuit contends that the unnecessary infliction of mental and emotional violence upon Mr. Muñoz by the U.S. government though family separation and his impending prosecution caused extraordinary anguish and trauma. After he was transferred to the Starr County Jail in Rio Grande City, staff at the jail failed to provide him with proper housing and monitoring given his mental condition as required by law. 

“A full year has passed since the world saw the horrors of family separation and mass prosecutions at the border, but the effects of these violent policies will be forever emblazoned into the lives of the families and individuals caught in the cross-hairs of the Administration’s callousness,“ said Efrén Olivares, Racial & Economic Justice Legal Director with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “Unfortunately, Mr. Muñoz lost his life due to these policies but today we begin the long process of seeking justice for his family. We will not rest until the federal government ends the zero-tolerance policy once and for all and all those responsible for his death are held accountable for their actions.”

“The United States has always been a beacon of hope and inspiration to persons seeking basic human rights, and we can never turn a blind eye when those rights are so callously trampled in by our own governmental officials and detention centers,”  added co-counsel John Escamilla, of the Escamilla Law Firm.

Mr. Muñoz’s death highlights the extreme trauma and mental anguish that his wife and children and thousands of other families and individuals continue to grapple with as a direct result of the Trump Administration’s violent border and immigration policies. Justice will not be possible until these families and individuals receive the psychological care owed to them by the federal government."