In response to news that the lawyers representing asylum-seeking families separated by the Trump administration had reached a settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, the following statement is attributable to Tessa Wilson, senior program officer of the PHR asylum program:
“PHR had long called on the U.S. administration to provide redress to victims and survivors who suffered harm through forced family separations. Although the settlement fails to include financial compensation, the provisions — including a limit to future family separations, government-funded housing benefits, legal counsel, medical and mental health services, and access to the affirmative asylum process — represent significant steps in the right direction. These crucial measures will assist families in the long process of healing from the profound harms caused by the U.S. family separation policy.
“As of October 2023, between 500 and 1,000 families are yet to be reunited. The administration must continue to prioritize reunification of these families as part of the settlement.
“While this announcement marks progress, we recognize that the psychological trauma from family separation often lives on for many years, even well after reunification. We also urge the administration to resolve all ongoing cases for financial damages that remain pending, in line with the recommendations from PHR’s 2022 report on reparations for survivors of family separation.
“PHR will continue to document harms caused by inhumane asylum policies and eagerly awaits the outcome of the court’s decision on this settlement in December. We applaud the persistent survivors who have pursued justice in the face of untold obstacles, as well as the ACLU and many partner organizations who have supported the families over the years.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.