A recording of the call can be found here.
Washington, DC – Lawyers representing family members who were reunited this week joined a press call with advocates and experts to review this remarkable week that saw the first four families separated by President Trump’s policies reunited in the U.S. It clearly marks a sharp break from the cruelty and chaos of Trump and Stephen Miller’s policies that impacted countless families. The fact that families are being reunited is not the end of the story for these families who face trauma and an uncertain immigration status moving forward. Secondly, ongoing Trump-era policies like excluding asylum seekers via Title 42 continue to be the focus of advocates who are trying to remake the asylum system and reduce family separations now and in the future. Speakers on the call offered hope for the future, as this marks the first of thousand reunifications, but also pressed for more progress and accountability as the Biden administration works to address the long list of Trump policies.
Lindsay Toczylowski, Esq., Executive Director at Immigrant Defenders Law Center, the organization representing Bryan Chavez, a teenager reunited with his mother this week in Riverside, California, said, “When our client Bryan hugged his mom for the first time in more than three and a half years, our team felt relieved and incredibly grateful to the many people who worked so hard to make that hug happen. We hope that the Biden administration is inspired by the joy and justice we saw in these reunifications this week to end Title 42 and other harmful policies which continue to tear families apart at our border.”
Linda Corchado, Director of Legal Services at Las Americas and Attorney for Keldy, a mother who was reunited with her sons this week in Philadelphia, PA, said, “I have had the great honor to represent Keldy from detention, to immigration court proceedings, and when she was displaced in southern Mexico and ultimately living in Ciudad Juarez during the pandemic. We’re from El Paso, and it was difficult to accept that this was our community during that time under the Trump administration. Keldy was separated in 2017 under the pilot program. She saw the detention center fill up in 2018 and mobilized to help others reunite with their families, but she was left behind. She has been traumatized by the process but we are glad to see change coming from the top. However, we need a cultural change from the local level, no migrants should have to fear immigration officials and that they act in accordance with our values.”
Ann Garcia, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), said, “Four parents have reunited with their children for the first time in years. The Biden administration is keeping its promise to do right by these families. Now that reunifications in the United States have begun, the Ms. L settlement negotiations will inform the fate of these thousands of families for the long-term. Our government can and must extend to these families, whether just returned or reunited years ago, a path to permanent lawful status in the United States, as well as social services, and restitution.”
Eleanor Acer, Sr. Director, Refugee Protection, Human Rights First, said, “While we are thrilled to see these families finally reunited, the Biden administration is continuing to use another Trump administration policy to turn away other families to dangers, leading to new family separations. It’s already way past time for the Biden administration to end its use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy and restore compliance with the refugee laws enacted by Congress.”