Migrant family-separation settlement provides path to asylum, 8-year ban on Trump-era policy
Under a new agreement, parents with minor children would not be prosecuted for entering the United States illegally or for reentering the country after deportation. The proposed settlement covers an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 children and their parents. Image from Shutterstock.
The U.S. government has agreed that for the next eight years, it won't reinstate a Trump administration zero-tolerance policy for illegal immigration that led to the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their families.
Under a class action settlement announced Monday, the government will continue to identify separated families, fund their reunification, provide access to government benefits, and provide temporary legal status along with a path for asylum requests, according to a Department of Justice fact sheet, a DOJ press release and a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of the families.
Under the proposed settlement, the government won’t separate minor children from their parents for eight years, except in limited circumstances that include outstanding criminal warrants and risks to child safety. Procedures would be established to allow parents in custody to communicate with their children.
Four types of services would be provided to separated families:
- Behavioral health services
- Certain medical assistance
- Temporary housing support
- Immigration legal services
Separated families could bring asylum claims outside the removal process.
The proposed settlement also provides for three-year work permits. Separated families that left the United States voluntarily or through deportation would be allowed back into the country for three years and could ask to bring other family members with them, according to the Washington Post and the Associated Press.
The families were separated after then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutions of all people entering illegally at the border, according to a 2021 report by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General. The prosecutions took three to seven days, a timetable that clashed with federal law requiring placement of separated children with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours.
Children were sent to facilities thousands of miles away and weren’t told when or whether they would see their families again, according to the ACLU press release. Because of poor tracking by the government, “officials were unable to identify which child belonged to which parent” after a federal judge ordered reunification in 2018.
Under the new agreement, parents with minor children would not be prosecuted for entering the United States illegally or for reentering the country after deportation, according to the Washington Post.
The proposed settlement, which requires a judge’s approval, covers an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 children and their parents.
The case is Ms. L. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.