Settlement Reached in Family Separation Case

More than 4,000 families reached a settlement with the Biden administration, according to an agreement filed in federal court on October 16, 2023. This will bring a close to class action litigation against the government for the Trump Administration’s family separation policy, which affected thousands of children who were forcibly taken from their families. This settlement will also allow affected families to remain in the U.S. for three years while receiving housing, mental health care, and legal assistance applying for asylum.

A Policy of Family Separation 

In 2017 and 2018, the Trump Administration put into place a policy that separated undocumented families with young children at the border, putting these children in separate detention facilities from their parents.  The purpose of this policy was to deter undocumented immigration by increasing the punitive aspects of illegal entry at the border.  

Damage Caused by Family Separation 

Whatever the intentions of this policy, the effects on children were widespread and devastating. Children often spent months separated from their families, with some especially young children apparently being unable to recognize their own parents after being reunited with them. In some cases, record keeping was so poor that children were unaccounted for, and some parents were even deported without their children, creating issues that would require years of additional work to untangle. 

Settling Claims Against the Government 

In response to these alleged harms, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class action suit against immigration authorities over the policy. The lawsuit alleged what the American Academy of Pediatrics called “sweeping cruelty” against the families and their children, resulting in significant harm and, in some cases, long-term psychological damage to the affected children. This settlement brings to a close a class action settlement against the government for the policy of family separation, although the families affected by it will likely be dealing with the consequences for years to come. 

The Impact of the Settlement 

Provided the agreement is approved by the court, affected families will be able to apply for asylum and work authorization in the United States, granting them legal immigrant status.  The settlement restricts any future separations to cases where parents have abused their children or engaged in serious crimes, in order to prevent another tragedy like this from occurring again. 

For more than 40 years, the Drucker Law Firm has been providing personal and quality legal services to individuals, universities, and corporations throughout the New York City and Tri-State area. We have represented three generations of clients in personal injury cases, as well as immigration and general litigation matters. If you have a legal issue related to personal injury law, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 to schedule a consultation or visit our contact page. 

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