Separated Migrant Families to Get New Shot at Asylum

Immigrant families separated at the U.S border may soon get a second chance to claim asylum if an agreement reached by the Department of Justice and immigration advocates is approved by a federal court.

A settlement was reached overnight Wednesday involving three lawsuits filed in the wake of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy of prosecuting all who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Parents arrested at the border have been separated from their children because children can’t be held in detention facilities for adults. The number of family separations has increased dramatically as arrests surged under the zero tolerance policy.

‘Credible fear’

Under the settlement, parents who have been separated from their children will get a new opportunity to demonstrate “credible fear” in an interview, the first step in the asylum process.

Parents or children who pass the interview will be allowed to apply for asylum as a family unit. When children pass and parents don’t, parents will be allowed to stay in the United States while the children’s case proceeds through the courts.

Some parents who have already been deported would be brought back to the United States.

Media reports have described parents who felt pressured to drop asylum cases and agree to deportation as a condition to be reunited with their children.

“The Trump administration will never be able to erase the full damage of its family separation policy, but this agreement is an important step toward restoring and protecting the asylum rights of impacted children and parents going forward,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.

The parties will be back in court Friday.

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