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DOJ Fights Family Separation Claims Despite Biden’s Ending The Policy

As one of his first actions, President Biden followed through on a campaign promise when he vowed to end the "moral and national shame" of his predecessor’s immigration policies and halt the prosecution of parents for often minor immigration violations that were used to justify separating them from their children. Yet the Department of Justice is actively defending those policies in court. By doing so, it in effect is asking families to decide whether reliving their pain is worth a potential payout. Families and their attorneys say they shouldn’t have to make that choice, USA Today reports. The conflict between policy and action comes down to protecting the powers of the presidency and reducing future payouts to the families. “It’s ironic that while candidate Biden said that family separation was abhorrent, as a president he’s allowing his Justice Department attorneys to fight these cases,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell University. He said, “every administration wants to preserve its flexibility and discretion on immigration, because immigration affects our sovereignty and foreign affairs.”  


Monetary settlement talks have fizzled, although some of the attorneys for the families continue to hold out hope for an agreement. Some of the lawsuits that have advanced the furthest in the legal process are under protective orders, so attorneys are not allowed to discuss the specifics of the cases or the interrogation of families. As the cases move forward, they are preparing to prove their claims. White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan didn’t answer questions about why the administration is fighting the tort claims, saying it does not comment on active litigation. He noted that the president has asserted that “the Trump administration’s family separation policy was abhorrent, unconscionable, and violated every notion of who we are as a nation.” More than 3,900 children were removed from their parents under Trump's policy, officially established in April 2018. About 860 children have yet to be reunited, says Biden's Reunification of Families Task Force.

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