Immigrant families separated from the Trump administration are facing difficulties finding reparations under Biden.


Fernando Aredondo was fighting deportation and suicidal thoughts. He developed a urinary tract infection and hives, lost eight pounds, and fell into deep depression.

Arredondo was detained by immigration and customs enforcement agencies in Georgia. separated From his 12-year-old daughter Andrea, who was then along the US-Mexico border, they sought asylum in their port of entry after their 17-year-old son was murdered in their hometown of Guatemala.

“I cried every day. I asked God, ‘What will happen to me? What will happen to my family?'” Arredondo recently spoke to CBS News in Spanish. like hundreds He spent several months in US immigration detention with other parents and was deported to Guatemala without a family in August 2018.

because of the court BespeakArredondo is return From Los Angeles where an immigration judge is reviewing the family’s asylum request, he will be traveling to the United States in January 2020 to reunite with Andrea, his wife and other daughters. If approved, you can live permanently in the United States.

But last week the lawyers representing Arredondo and Andrea, now 16, said: Sue The Biden administration has demanded millions of dollars in reparations from the government for the forced separation and the trauma it caused.

According to CBS News Review, lawsuits are currently pending on behalf of more than 80 parents and children in federal courts across the United States. legal documents.

Last year, the Biden administration agreed to negotiate with lawyers for migrant families seeking reparations to falsify a settlement agreement for victims’ families. However, in October 2021, the Wall Street Journal report The fact that a $450,000 payment was being considered provoked strong Republican backlash.

Biden administration in December amid political aftermath finished compensation negotiations. A break in the talks means families seeking compensation will have to file a claim for damages against the government. If they can find a family lawyer who will be happy to handle an expensive and time-consuming case.

In December, the Justice Department said that “even though the parties currently have not reached a global agreement, we continue to work with the plaintiffs and bring justice to the victims of this abhorrent policy.”

However, after reviewing court records and interviews with the four lawyers in charge of the case, President Biden’s Justice Department sought to dismiss the migrant family’s lawsuit seeking reparation, and it was found that the individual You can see that you are not solving the case.

Immigration - Family Separation
Fernando Arredondo of Guatemala, daughters Andrea (left), Kayleigh (right) and Allison (two from left) at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, after parting during the Trump administration’s sweeping immigrant family segregation. second) and reunite.

Ringo HW Chiu / AP


Instead, lawyers representing the Biden administration argued to federal judges that families seeking financial compensation for Trump-era border separation were not entitled to compensation under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

The Justice Department wrote in January that “this discretion necessarily entails making decisions about who to detain non-citizens with, including whether adults and minors can be detained in the same facility and whether their families are detained together.” demand On behalf of the migrant families of three separated in 2018, the suit is dismissed.

The dismissal request was rejected by US magistrate Kandis Westmore on Tuesday, who rejected the Justice Department’s allegations and allowed the three families to continue seeking compensation.

“The fact that the government is trying to evade responsibility for an unresolved policy is not legally defensible,” Westmore wrote, “because some children are still waiting to be reunited with their families.” Opinion.

The Justice Department declined to comment on these reparations cases or how it was fulfilling its December pledge to “do justice” to separated families during the Trump administration.

“Political Duality”

Lawyers representing migrant families seeking financial compensation for the breakup said the Biden administration must either resume negotiations on a global settlement or settle individual lawsuits.

“Resolving these cases globally would not only be the most cost-effective way for governments to pursue litigation, but would also prevent the Biden administration from continuing to appear in cases defending the legitimacy of denying this family. said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the Civil Liberties Union, who challenged immigration segregation in 2018.

during presidential debate In 2020, Biden strongly condemned the separation of the United States. approximately During the Trump administration, parents called 4,000 immigrant children “criminals.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), more than 200 immigrant children have reunited with their parents in the United States, thanks to a task force created by former Vice President Biden in his second week in office. their family.

A DHS spokesperson told CBS News this week that “out of 1,000 children, the task force has contacted more than 500 parents and nearly 400 children are currently in the process of reunification.” “We expect these families to reunite and contact additional families in the coming months.”

At a meeting with families affected by the separation last summer, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said: apologized on behalf of the US Government. DHS officials are also asking Congress for $20 million in funding to continue the task force’s work and provide additional services to families.

Immigration separated family
David Xol-Cholom of Guatemala hugs his son Byron at Los Angeles International Airport in January 2020. When separated and reunited during the Trump administration’s massive immigrant family segregation.

Ringo HW Chiu / AP


Lawyers thank the Biden administration for efforts to reunite separated families, but continuing attempts by the Department of Justice to dismiss lawsuits filed by parents and children seeking reparation for the trauma the government has inflicted on them undermine those efforts. said to do it.

“The government is morally and legally wrong,” said Bree Bernwanger, a San Francisco-based civil rights attorney’s commission that is tracking compensation lawsuits. “They have to get back to the negotiating table. Otherwise, they’re engaging in a political double whammy. They reject the policy and cannot defend themselves in court.”

Failure to provide reparation to separated parents and children could reduce some of the challenges faced by recently reunited people, including housing instability, financial instability, and lack of access to mental health and health care, according to an organization supporting two groups based in the United States. say it will get worse.

Together, Free and Seneca Family of Agencies, through personal donations, provide temporary housing, rental assistance, clothing, case management and other services to approximately 180 migrant parents and children who recently reunited in the United States after separation in 2017 and 2018. said. .

Kate Wheatcroft, Managing Director of Together and Free, said, “Only when families have reliable housing and food on the table can they truly begin to address the trauma and harm caused by family separation.”

November 2021 qualitative research Physicians for Human Rights clinicians have found that separated families show signs of severe psychological distress and encourage monetary compensation.

The lawsuit brought on behalf of Arredondo and his daughter Andrea says they both continue to suffer from “severe emotional distress” after reuniting in early 2020. Both Arredondo and Andrea were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. according to the lawsuit.

“Any reader, regardless of political affiliation, should be shocked that our government has done what our government has done to this family who has legally reached our country to seek asylum,” said Linda Darkin-Grim, a goodwill attorney at the law firm. Milbank, who sued on behalf of Arredondo and Andrea.

As a matter of policy, Republicans opinion The U.S. argued that it should not pay reparations to immigrants who entered the country illegally. some immigrant families, including Arredondo’s; was separated After seeking asylum at a port of entry that is legal under U.S. law.

Arredondo said the financial rewards will help his family, especially his young daughters. However, he stressed that no amount of money could erase his memory of being detained for several months, deported and separated from his family for nearly two years the day US border agents separated him from Andrea.

It also won’t erase the murder of his son, a painful reason his family traveled north.

“Don’t forget. Don’t forget.” Aredondo said choking.

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