October 16, 2023

Statement from Families Belong Together Sponsors Castro and Blumenthal on Settlement for Trump-era Family Separations

SAN ANTONIO — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) released the following statements after the Biden administration announced the terms of a settlement between the Biden administration and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that, if approved, would provide humanitarian parole and access to housing, medical, and legal services to families affected by Trump-era family separations:                                    

“The Trump administration’s family separation policies will be forever remembered as one of the darkest chapters in American history,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “The terms of this settlement will help hundreds of parents reunite with their children and rebuild their lives after unimaginable trauma. There are no settlement terms that could fully repair the damage of family separation, but the agreement announced today is an important step to compensate the victims and prevent history from repeating itself, and I’m grateful to the ACLU for their dedication to this case. Family separation is always wrong, and the Biden administration should work with Congress to ensure that all immigrant families are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“This settlement rightly provides the victims of the Trump Administration’s brutally painful family separation policy with the opportunity to seek legal status and a path to citizenship – a chance to reunify and rebuild their families in safety. President Trump directed the U.S. government to orphan children for the explicit purpose of inflicting pain on families – an unconscionable policy that this legal agreement limits. No matter your politics, no one should confuse that kind of intentional cruelty with effective immigration enforcement. This settlement is a critical first step towards righting the wrong of family separation,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

In 2019 and 2021, Congressman Castro and Senator Blumenthal introduced the Families Belong Together Act to address the harms of family separation. The Families Belong Together Act would provide humanitarian parole to eligible parents and children, establish a process by which eligible parents and children can be adjusted to lawful permanent resident status, and authorize funding to locate and reunite families and support their legal rights. The terms of today’s settlement include similar protections to those proposed in the Castro-Blumenthal bill.

Under the terms of this settlement, parents of separated children would receive humanitarian parole to reunite with their children in the United States. Families would also receive housing, medical, and behavioral services to address the trauma of family separation and legal assistance to help them file successful asylum applications to stay permanently in the United States. The settlement would also bar the federal government from similar separations for eight years.