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Women’s Refugee Commission Welcomes Historic Legal Settlement on Family Separation

Washington, D.C.—In response to yesterday’s historic announcement of a settlement filed in the Ms. L v ICE lawsuit concerning the Trump administration’s illegal policy to forcibly separate immigrant children from parents at the border, Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

“The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the proposed settlement. The Trump administration’s family separation policy—known as Zero Tolerance—was a moral and national shame on our country. The children and parents affected will live with that trauma for the rest of their lives. While nothing will ever fully undo the damage and trauma inflicted by the Zero Tolerance policy, this settlement provides crucial safeguards against a future family-separation policy, assists families already harmed with their basic needs, and expands families’ access to legal status in the United States. Most of all, it is a step toward ensuring that separations at the border never happen again.

“WRC documented family separation in its earliest days, before the Zero Tolerance policy was formally enacted. I have seen the chaos and horrific trauma caused by forcibly separating children from their parents. WRC was closely involved in the efforts to end this brutal policy and to reunify families, including by serving on the court-created steering committee in the Ms. L case. After the policy ended, we spoke with numerous parents who had been separated under the policy, hearing over and over again about the heartbreak of not knowing where one’s parents or child is, the long-lasting suffering of being separated from one’s closest family, and the indelible effects on these children. The settlement is an enormous and critical step toward stability for the families affected.

“Important work remains to be done. The families deserve restitution for the trauma of separation, and we hope that children and parents will get the much-needed support they need to navigate the streamlined procedures for asylum and other immigration status to recover the security and stability that they deserve. The court must also ensure accountability so that all of the settlement’s provisions are meaningfully upheld.

“WRC is hopeful that this long-awaited settlement can finally allow some families to access the relief and assistance they so profoundly deserve. And while no settlement can ever undo the harms already inflicted, we hope that families seeking safety at U.S. borders in the future will now have the necessary safeguards against history repeating itself.”


Learn more about WRC’s work on rights and justice.