US government to settle class-action lawsuit against Trump-era family separation policy News
US Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
US government to settle class-action lawsuit against Trump-era family separation policy

The US government announced on Monday that it will settle a 2018 class-action lawsuit that challenged the Trump administration’s family separation practice at the US-Mexico border.

The parties filed a joint petition asking the court to approve the settlement. The proposed settlement would create a process to reunify families who were separated. Additionally, the government would provide behavioral health services, housing support, and money to cover certain medical costs, as well as arrange immigration legal services with the Executive Office for Immigration Review for those affected by the family separation policy. Notably, the settlement does not provide any monetary relief for affected people. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “This agreement will facilitate the reunification of separated families and provide them with critical services to aid in their recovery.”

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May 2018 that the Department of Justice would separate parents and children crossing the border without documentation. Shortly thereafter, the program received criticism and public outcry from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and at least 21 state attorneys general, as well as a lawsuit filed by 17 states. In June 2018, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively ending the family separation policy.

The original lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Ms. L v. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sought relief for a woman whose seven-year-old daughter was “forcibly separated” from her in 2017 when they tried to cross into San Diego’s port of entry after fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shortly after arriving in the US, Ms. L was sent to a detention center in Otay Mesa, while her daughter was sent to a separate facility in Chicago.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero emphasized the gravity of this lawsuit when he shared in a press release, “The ACLU has settled hundreds of lawsuits in our 103-year history, but none more important than this one. To America’s enduring shame, we tore children from the arms of their families to enact a xenophobic agenda.”

Individuals may file a claim if they believe they have been impacted by the policy at