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Families Separated Under Zero-Tolerance Policy Finally Receive Answers on How Their Cases Will Proceed

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Children and Families
Posted: Oct. 16, 2023

For Immediate Release
October 16, 2023

Arianna Rosales,

Washington, DC– No one can forget the summer of 2018 when thousands of people across the country took to the streets to protest the Trump administration's cruel family separation policy. Today, after years of negotiations, a settlement was reached in Ms. L., et al. v. ICE, et al., which means families who were separated at the border under the unconscionable zero-tolerance policy finally have answers on how their cases will proceed through the asylum process. The settlement importantly also sets out new criteria to limit the separation of immigrant families in the future to ensure that thousands of children will not be separated from their parents at the border again. 

The National Immigration Project has been on the frontlines of the legal response to the family separation tragedy since its onset. Our team originally represented the class of parents who were separated from their children and, since 2019, has continued to accompany and assist separated families in their immigration and restitution cases. We have worked with hundreds of families to protect their access to the asylum process and have provided critical technical assistance and guidance to immigration lawyers across the country who represent these families. Beginning in 2021, the National Immigration Project was also part of a group of organizations that helped establish a process with the government to reunite families and keep them together in the United States. 

Said Ann Garcia, Staff Attorney at the National Immigration Project:  

“We are relieved that after years of waiting, our clients who were callously separated from their families at the border finally have clarity on how their cases will proceed. While this is a critical and long-awaited step, there is still work to be done. The issue of restitution remains unfinished since the Biden administration abruptly withdrew from global settlement negotiations in 2021. No amount of money will restore these families to who they were before they were separated, but they are owed restitution for the deep harm our government caused them. Our government should not subject these families to reliving the most traumatic days of their lives and should return to the table and discuss settlement with counsel.”

The Trump administration used family separation as a punitive tool to deter other families from coming to the United States. Other cruel policies that are intended as tools of deterrence are still in use today. The National Immigration Project and its partners continue working to dismantle these harmful policies.


The National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) is a membership organization of attorneys, advocates, and community members who are driven by the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, live freely, and flourish. We litigate, advocate, educate, and build bridges across movements to ensure that those most impacted by the immigration and criminal systems are uplifted and supported. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @NIPNLG.