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Families Separated By Trump Border Policy May Stay In U.S., Seek Asylum

Lawyers for thousands of families separated at the southern border during a Trump administration crackdown have reached a settlement with the federal government that enables the migrants to remain in the U.S. and apply for asylum, putting them on the path to permanent legal residency. The agreement, filed on Monday in federal court in San Diego, concludes years of negotiations that were part of a class-action lawsuit to address the harm inflicted by family separations in 2017 and 2018, as part of Trump's administration efforts to curb unauthorized immigration, reports the New York Times. Children were systematically taken from their parents and sent to shelters and foster homes across the U.S., and parents were criminally charged for entering the country unlawfully. The objective was to deliver a powerful deterrent to families planning to come to the U.S., even those seeking asylum.

About three-quarters of the families that were separated have either been reunified or have been provided with the information they need to begin to reunification process. If approved by a judge, the settlement would grant the families permission to live and work legally in the U.S. while they await a decision on their asylum claims. Parents and children who have been separated and are already in the U.S. will be able to petition to bring family members from their home countries. “This agreement will facilitate the reunification of separated families and provide them with critical services to aid in their recovery,” said Attorney General, Merrick Garland. Families that have previously been denied asylum will be eligible to reapply, and asylum officers will be instructed by the government to take into account the trauma caused by the forced separations. Families that prevail in their asylum cases, which typically take years to be adjudicated, will be eligible for green cards and, eventually, U.S. citizenship.

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