On Mother’s Day, ACLU Urges President Biden to Reunite and Provide Relief to Families Torn Apart by Trump’s Family Separation Practice

ACLU Calls on Biden Administration to Bring Humanity and Fairness to Country’s Immigration System

May 8, 2021 9:15 am

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NEW YORK – In a two-page ad appearing Sunday in the New York Times, the American Civil Liberties Union is urging President Joe Biden to make good on his promise to reunite and provide restitution and legal status to all of the families torn apart by Trump’s family separation practice. While four parents were reunited with their children in the U.S. this week, hundreds of parents have not been found and thousands of families have yet to be reunited. All told, the Trump administration’s family separation practice tore approximately 5,500 children from their families arriving at the border.

The ad, available here, uses a childhood growth chart to illustrate the harm these families continue to experience, and reiterates the ACLU’s demands that these families be reunited in the United States and provided citizenship, resources, care, and a commitment that family separation will never happen again.

“This Mother’s Day, hundreds of children remain separated from their mothers and thousands of others are suffering from the trauma Trump’s family separation practice inflicted,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “We know the Biden administration and the Family Reunification Task Force are working hard on this issue, but four families out of thousands is only the beginning – thousands more remain separated or suffering. The administration understands it needs to pick up the pace, and we can’t hang the “mission accomplished” sign just yet. All total, more than 5,500 families have suffered unimaginable trauma and deserve a path to citizenship, immediate care, and resources to help them. As the Family Reunification Task Force prepares to issue its report on June 2, we are calling the Biden administration to work urgently to fulfill its promise to reunite these families and provide them with resources for care, permanent legal status, and a commitment that such an atrocity will never happen again.”

In 2018, the ACLU brought a successful lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of Ms. L, a Congolese mother who had been forcibly separated from her 7-year-old daughter when seeking asylum in the U.S. The revelations that followed shocked the world, as the true and horrifying extent of Trump’s family separation practice was exposed. It was later revealed that the Trump administration had begun separating families at the border in 2017, shortly after taking office. Trump’s immigration officers separated more than 5,500 children, including infants and toddlers torn from their parents’ arms.

Upon taking office, President Biden formally rescinded Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy and created a Family Reunification Task Force with a broad mandate, which is due to make an initial progress report within 120 days (June 2). In March, the ACLU and the federal government announced the start of settlement negotiations in its class action lawsuit challenging family separation, Ms. L vs. ICE. The ACLU is pressing the administration to reach agreement on a comprehensive package for these families before June 2.

To date, roughly 400 parents separated from their children at the border have not been located and an estimated 1,000 families have not been reunited.

In addition to bringing attention to the harms of family separation, the ACLU continues to call for the Biden administration to bring humanity and fairness to our immigration system, including by rebuilding asylum and humane border policies; ending abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); undoing harm to Muslim, Arab, Black, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities; and working with Congress to pass citizenship legislation without harmful tradeoffs.

“We can’t forget that family separation is far from the only example of the trauma and harm the Trump administration inflicted on individual migrants, families, and communities across America in its war on immigrants,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This Mother’s Day, despite the change in administration, hundreds of people will be forcibly expelled from the United States — including mothers traveling with or to their children — under a Trump-invented process that entirely bypasses the asylum laws. Dreamers, TPS holders, and many others for whom America is home still lack security and a path to citizenship. Hundreds of cruel policies and regulations have yet to be reversed. President Biden promised to build a humane immigration system that aligns with our values. Today millions of lives depend on his ability to deliver on that promise.”

A landing page of resources on family separation, including a timeline of key developments, is available here.

A blog detailing the Biden administration’s actions on immigration during its first 100 days is online here.

The ad is available here.

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