McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Migrant groups nationwide have reacted favorably to a proposed settlement in a lawsuit brought by families separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border, but advocates said they want more reparations for the affected families.
If approved by a federal judge, the settlement would allow some parents of separated children to come to the United States under humanitarian parole for three years and to hold jobs. Housing aid and medical and behavioral health benefits also would be given to some families who were separated during the zero-tolerance policy implemented during the Trump administration.
The federal government also would be forbidden for at least eight years from re-implementing a “zero-tolerance’ policy, if the settlement — reached Monday between the ACLU and the Biden administration — is approved by a judge.
“This proposed settlement is a step in the right direction but overdue and incomplete. The thousands of families the government cruelly separated deserve nothing less than financial compensation as is standard given the severity of the harm caused by the government’s punitive deterrence policy. They also deserve no less than a prioritized pathway to permanent residence and more than one option to stay in the United States,” FWD.us President Todd Schulte said.
“The U.S. government must expand upon this settlement and take all steps necessary to ensure the abhorrent policy of separating young children — including infants — from their mothers and fathers never happens again, including by building more legal migration avenues that give families safer options to come to the United States,” Schulte said.
“While no settlement could ever fully heal the trauma that these families — and particularly the children — will live with for the rest of their lives, it’s a first step toward moving past that horrific time and ensuring that the large-scale separation of families at the border never happens again,” said Jennifer Podkul, vice president of policy and advocacy for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).
KIND has represented families separated from what Podkul calls a “monstrous policy.”
“We are hopeful that the settlement can provide streamlined procedures for the families impacted so that they can access permanent protection and remain together, while also setting strong protections to prevent the needless separation of children from their families in the future,” Podkul said.
Some children were as young as 6 months old when separated, she said.
An estimated 1,000 children still remain separated from their families and despite efforts by the federal government to reunify them, cannot find their parents.
Advocates say more legal and social services are needed to assist the Family Reunification Task Force in finding missing loved ones. The task force helps families that were separated between January 2017 and January 2021 and consists of representatives from the Department of Homeland Security; Department of State; Department of Health and Human Services and Justice Department.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the Biden administration has “unwavering commitment to reunify families who suffered because of the prior administration’s cruel and inhumane policy, and our steadfast adherence to our nation’s most dearly held values. This agreement helps family members reunify with their loved ones in the United States and receive services to help them address the trauma they have suffered.”
The ACLU tweeted on X, the platform formerly Twitter, that the settlement was “historic.”
“This helps close one of the darkest chapters of the Trump administration,” the ACLU tweeted. adding: “This settlement alone can’t repair the harm done to these children but it is an essential beginning.”
“This is an important step forward for the families who are still reeling from the trauma of separation,” Justice in Motion Executive Director Cathleen Caron, tweeted.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.