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DOJ Bans Family Separation At Border ... Until 2031 Anyway.
No President Josh Hawley in 2028, okay?
Some good news that you may have missed in all the recent madness of the ongoing surrealism maelstrom, by way of lawblogger and frequent MSNBC guest Joyce Vance, who may actually be two or three identical women and therefore always on TV.
Vance writes on her Substack that a federal court is close to wrapping up the long lawsuit stemming from the Trump regime’s family separation policy, which led to between 4,000 and 5,000 children being taken from their parents during 2017 and 2018.
A settlement agreement released Monday between the Justice Department and the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit would offer the affected families significant help, and would ban the federal government from resuming the policy for at least eight years. Any permanent ban on family separations, Vance notes, would have to be enacted by Congress, so unless Democrats gain hugely in both houses in 2024 and eliminate the filibuster, don’t bet on that happening.
Still, an eight-year halt to family separations is nothing to sneeze at, Vance notes, because it would be binding on the winners of the next two presidential elections, assuming those elections aren’t won by someone who consequently dismantles the rule of law entirely.
The settlement comes in the long-running case Ms. L., et al. v. ICE, et al. which in 2018 led to the order that put a stop to the human rights abuse, and in later rulings required the government to reunite all the families — a job, you’ll recall, that the Trump administration dumped on the ACLU since it represented the plaintiffs. The administration hadn’t kept records of the separated families, and besides, it was too fucking lazy to bother following some silly federal court order. It really is a good idea to remind ourselves that for four years we were governed by sociopaths who thought that inflicting psychological trauma on children would be a great way to prevent people from committing the misdemeanor crime of crossing the border without papers.
In announcing the settlement Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “The practice of separating families at the southwest border was shameful.” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, whose office led the work on the settlement, called the policy “a betrayal of our nation’s values” and added,
“By providing services to these families and implementing polices to prevent future separations, today’s agreement addresses the impacts of those separations and helps ensure that nothing like this happens again.”
Again, that’s assuming that future administrations actually follow court orders.
In addition to the ban on future family separations, the Texas Tribune explains that families who were separated will
qualify to enter or remain in the country legally, receive a three-year renewable work permit, plus assistance in finding housing and covering some costs such as first and last month’s rent. The federal government would also cover behavioral health services and co-payments for medical needs.
They would also be able to apply for asylum, even if they were previously denied, at any point during their stay in the U.S.
The settlement stops short, however, of providing any monetary damages, which frankly sucks considering the lifetime trauma these families have experienced. NPR notes that negotiations on any inclusion of financial compensation ended in 2021, “after Republican lawmakers expressed outrage, saying the amounts under consideration were too high.” This is America. We break things, including families, and hell no we won’t pay for it.
However, the Texas Tribune also notes that “dozens” of additional lawsuits that do seek monetary damages are still making their way through the courts.
Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order creating a task force to reunite families that were still separated, and all these years after Trump, John Kelly, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and the rest of those ghouls plunged families into chaos, the work of the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families is still ongoing, as Monday’s press release details:
The task force has searched through thousands of government records to identify separated families and has thus far reunited more than 750 children with their families and has identified 85 additional children who are currently in the process of being reunited with their families. The task force has also identified more than 290 U.S. citizen children who were separated from their parents during the relevant time frame, is working to confirm that they have been reunified with their families, and will offer them services to support their reunification. [emphasis added — Doktor Zoom]
Yes, we took away kids who were US citizens from their parents too. That’s fine, though, because Republicans want to do away with birthright citizenship anyway, and they’re just itchin’ for the chance to get to it.
So now everything is fine and all the parents are back with their kids? Not quite, as NPR points out:
While most of the separated families have since been reunited, up to 1,000 children are still not with their parents, according to the ACLU. More than five years after the policy ended, these children remain scattered across the U.S., living with extended relatives, family friends or under state supervision.
Fortunately, they too are covered by the settlement, so the work of getting every child reunited with their parents will continue. That includes, if necessary, bringing parents or guardians back to the US if they were deported.
You want a reason to fight like hell to reelect Joe Biden and retake control of Congress next year? Donald Trump still thinks family separation is a good idea, and at that CNN town hall in May wouldn’t rule it out:
"If a family hears that they're going to be separated, they love their family, they don’t come. I know it sounds harsh."
To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I don’t believe in Hell, but for Trump I’d make an exception.
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