According to lawyers representing families reportedly separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” illegal immigration policy, they are “hopeful” that more than 1,000 families will not only be reunified with their children, but will be given permanent status in the United States, as well as “compensation and social services.”
“Those families are represented in a federal lawsuit, known as the Ms. L case, that began under Trump and is in the process of being settled with the Biden administration,” reported NBC News.
Lee Gelernt is the lead attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the lawsuit, and appeared to defend the Biden administration’s reported inaction on the promise to reunite families, saying it is “acting in good faith.”
Speaking with NBC News, not only did Gelernt suggest that settlement would involve reunification and permanent status, but also “compensation and social services.”
“The ACLU is in settlement negotiations with the Biden administration to provide full relief to the thousands of separated families, not just reunification in the U.S. but permanent status, compensation and social services,” Gelernt said.
“We are hopeful this will get done,” he added. “And we will continue to pressure the Biden administration to move as quickly as possible.”
NBC News also reported that a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said that a task force for reunifying families — headed by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — is aiming to provide “stability” for separated families.
“The Task Force is actively working to develop a system for processing and reunifying over a thousand families and to set up a system to provide mental health support and stability to thousands more families who are here in the United States and still trying to heal from the trauma caused by their separation,” the spokesperson said. “This is only the beginning, and the government cannot do this work alone. We are committed to working with the private sector and with the NGOs, attorneys, and advocates who have done tremendous work in support of these families.”
“Advocates for the families are seeking to have them reunited inside the U.S., provided with compensation and social services, and granted permanent legal status to remain in the U.S.,” NBC News continued, adding that “The DHS spokesperson did not address whether the Biden administration’s system for providing “stability” would incorporate any of these specific measures.”
“The key will be that the Biden administration stays the course because there is a lot to do,” said Gelernt. “It is one thing to get a few families back, but a whole other thing to scale up the process so it works smoothly for more than 1,000 families who remain separated, not to mention getting benefits for the thousands of others who need them.”
In October 2020, Bloomberg News reported that “Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign announced that he would create a task force on his first day in office that would work to reunite the migrant children that the Trump administration separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border.”
During a presidential debate, Biden said that “kids were ripped from their arms and separated and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone,” describing such a state of affairs as “criminal.”
However, as Axios reported in early April, “Not one of the hundreds of migrant families separated from President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy has been reunited under President Biden thus far.”
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