In the eyes of many, the zero tolerance policy and the family separation crisis came and went as one of the darkest times in U.S. policy toward families, children and asylum seekers. The latest news reviving the issue, particularly Judge Sabraw’s decision to expand the class in Ms. L v. ICE to include thousands beyond the 2,800 separations previously acknowledged, reminds us that our work to bring justice to these families is far from over. CLINIC, along with partners and affiliates, has built a multi-faceted response to the family separation crisis that supports hundreds of families and stands to help thousands.
Under the leadership of Defending Vulnerable Populations, or DVP, Program Director Michelle Mendez, the program created new resources for practitioners, strengthened important collaborations, created innovative partnerships and established multiple strategic initiatives. DVP published a Frequently Asked Questions on Family Separation Litigation resource and a template motion to rescind in absentia removal orders and reopen removal proceedings for formerly separated families, along with supporting materials. One important collaboration is underway in Central and North Florida. Noting a dearth of resources for separated families in this area, we secured funds to hire, mentor and train four legal service positions, two based at Jacksonville Legal Aid and two based at Catholic Charities of Central Florida. One example of a recently established innovative partnership is our collaboration with Lyft to provide families transportation to legal appointments and ICE check-ins.