Seeking Accountability for Separated Families
On February 21, 2020, a large cross-office Sidley team (working on a pro bono basis alongside Public Counsel) obtained final favorable resolution for a putative class of immigrant families, as the U.S. government officially withdrew its appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case, Ms. J.P. v. Barr, challenged the government’s policies of separating refugee parents from their children, holding each in prolonged detention and denying them access to the mental health services needed to address the consequences of such separation. In 2018, the Sidley team sought a preliminary injunction requiring the government to provide mental health services to the class of immigrant families separated upon entry into the United States. In 2019, in a groundbreaking 50-page order, Judge John A. Kronstadt of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted the preliminary injunction and certified the class, requiring mental health screenings and treatment to help separated family members begin to address the severe and ongoing trauma associated with family separation. The government’s recent decision to withdraw its Ninth Circuit appeal solidifies a significant victory for the class of immigrant families. The Sidley team included lawyers from Century City, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Political Asylum and Immigrants’ Rights Project / Seeking Accountability for Separated Families
“The government’s family separation policy was designed and executed for the purpose of destroying family bonds by wrenching children from their parents, keeping them apart and refusing to take steps to reunify … no law firm in the nation has done more than Sidley to bring these practices to light, have them found unconstitutional, and, most importantly, secure desperately needed mental health services for children and their parents. The historic court orders achieved to date are not just landmark legal victories; they are the basis for hope and restorative healing for the thousands of families affected.”
– Mark Rosenbaum, Director of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law