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National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s comments today about family separation lawsuits brought by parents and children who were separated at the southern U.S. border under the Trump administration:

“As most Americans recall, from 2017 through 2018, the U.S. government tore thousands of children from their parents as they arrived at the southern border seeking asylum protection. Families have since pursued litigation under long-standing U.S. law which allows them to seek compensation for the U.S. government’s wrongful conduct. We cannot forget the harrowing circumstances that mothers, fathers, and children suffered: parents were forcefully separated from their children and forced to wait for months in detention — often in cages or prison cells — without being told where their children had been taken; toddlers were flown across the country, believing they may never see their mothers or fathers again; some families remain separated to this day because parents were summarily deported to countries where they faced severe danger. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned that the stress children experienced during these separations could ‘cause irreparable harm to lifelong development by disrupting a child’s brain architecture.’ Tragically, more than three years later, children and parents continue to suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms that impact their daily lives.

“Providing financial compensation is the minimum this administration can do so families can access the resources they need to heal from this trauma inflicted by the U.S. government. The president’s comments were inappropriate, and we trust that, given the lives at stake, his administration will continue to negotiate these cases in good faith.”