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Inhumane Family Separation Case Settled


Scott Simpson,
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg,
Nicole Vogt,

Civil Rights Groups Settle Case Against Trump Administration’s Inhumane Family Separation Policies

Settlement Could Give Well Over 1,000 Parents Another Chance at Asylum

Washington, DC, September 12, 2018 – In accordance with a new agreement reached today in Dora v. Sessions and companion cases Ms. L v. ICE and M.M.M. v. Sessions – three legal actions that are challenging the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance and family-separation policies – the government has agreed that all parents still in the United States who underwent the asylum interview process after being forcibly separated from their children and subsequently had their claim rejected will now have a second chance to have their asylum request reviewed, including the opportunity to submit additional evidence and testimony.  Today’s agreement, if approved by the court, will provide much needed relief to these parents and their children and will ensure that their asylum claims are properly considered by federal officials.

According to Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney for Muslim Advocates, “Today’s agreement is a significant victory for parents who were denied a real chance at asylum. The parents in these lawsuits all came to the United States fleeing unspeakable violence and seeking shelter for themselves and their children. The government forcibly separated them from their children, causing them severe psychological trauma and denying them a meaningful opportunity to make their case for asylum. With this agreement, they will finally have a real chance to be heard and to secure safety and stability for themselves and their families.”

According to Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia, “Our government forcibly ripped children from the arms of asylum-seeking parents, and then asked them, debilitated by trauma, all by themselves, unrepresented by lawyers, to articulate complex legal claims without any support or accommodation.  With this settlement, those parents will now finally have a fair shot at winning protection in the United States.”

Dora v. Sessions was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Muslim Advocates and Legal Aid Justice Center on behalf of 29 plaintiffs forcibly separated from their children under the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane “zero tolerance” policy.  The complaint alleged that, because of the disabling trauma of family separation, parents were confused, disoriented, unable to focus on anything other than the whereabouts and well-being of their children, and unable to adequately articulate their experiences to the interviewing officers. As a result, the plaintiffs received negative credible fear determinations, and faced immediate deportation. The complaint raised claims under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

A copy of the settlement can be found here: Agreement Dora v Sessions

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Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.

Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses.  More information is available at

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