The Trump administration reached a settlement agreement late Wednesday in three lawsuits levied by the American Civil Liberties Union and Muslim Advocates over the Justice Department’s “zero tolerance” immigration-enforcement policy, which resulted in the separation of nearly 3,000 children from the adults who brought them across the border illegally.
Over 1,000 parents and children who crossed the border illegally and claimed asylum on the grounds of a “credible fear of persecution or torture” in their homeland will get a second chance to file their claims if the settlement is approved by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw. The ACLU said in a statement that under the settlement, there is also a possibility that some parents deported without their children may be allowed to reenter the U.S.
The administration halted the family-separation policy in June and attempted to defuse the bipartisan backlash it had caused. A California federal judge ordered the reunification of separated families days afterward, but the reunification process has been slow, and several hundred children remain separated from their guardians.
Many of the immigrants in question may not ultimately gain asylum, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions reuled earlier this year that fear of domestic or gang violence would no longer be considered valid grounds for a claim. While their cases are being heard, often over a period of years, asylum seekers are allowed to live and work in the U.S., and under the settlement, some parents and children who are at different stages of the process will be allowed to live together in the country.