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ACLU resumes lawsuit for separated families as Biden administration exits talks

By Alisa Reznick
Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2021 - 7:29am

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Asylum seekers march
Kino Border Initiative
Dozens of asylum seekers and supporters marched to the border wall in Nogales, Sonora, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, to ask the incoming administration to restore the right to asylum in the United States.

The ACLU is resuming a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of migrant families separated under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy. 

More than 5,000 children were separated from their parents under the zero tolerance policy’s year-long run. The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit in Arizona seeking damages on their behalf. 

Stephan Kang with the ACLU says that suit was paused earlier this year when his organization entered negotiations with the government. But the Biden administration abruptly ended talks last week. Now, they’re going back to court. 

“And the government will now be forced to defend the Trump administration’s family separation practices in those lawsuits,” he said.

That suit is one of a handful seeking financial compensation for families, all of which had negotiations halted by the Biden administration last week. A separate ACLU suit aims to locate and reunite hundreds of families who are still apart, and ensure new policies that could result in family separation don’t happen in the future. Kang says talks with the government for those suits are ongoing.