AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA: U.S. Must Reunify Families, Stay Their Removal, and Provide for the Return of 400+ Parents Deported Without Their Children

7/26/18 AILA Doc. No. 18072670. Removal & Relief
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods


Washington, DC - Ahead of today's looming deadline to reunite separated families, two important factors must not be overlooked. The first is the Trump administration's acknowledgment that 463 parents who were victims of the administration's family separation scheme have been deported without their children. The second is that the administration intends to seek the immediate removal of reunited family members.


American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) members and American Immigration Council experts submitted affidavits in court documents stating parents were coerced into signing off on their deportations or led to believe that they would be more rapidly reunited with their children if they accepted removal. In light of the administration's conduct, AILA calls for an immediate stay of the removal and release from custody of all of the victims of this family separation strategy so the families are afforded the chance to be represented by an attorney and to file claims for relief if they are eligible. Further, AILA calls for the immediate return to the United States of those parents who have already been deported so that they can be reunited with their children and have their cases reviewed by a fair, impartial adjudicator.

Anastasia Tonello, AILA President noted, "Over the past several weeks, representatives from AILA and the Council, working through our Immigration Justice Campaign, have met with hundreds of parents in and around El Paso and in Dilley, TX, who are victims of the administration's disastrous family separation strategy. In nearly all of the cases we've seen, government officials used threats, false promises, misinformation and other coercive tactics. The government's conduct calls into question whether any of these parents understood what they were agreeing to, whether they knew what was happening to their children, and whether any were given information about the legal remedies available to protect themselves against deportation."

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson said, "From what we have seen and heard from the families who are still in the United States, it is obvious that the goal of the administration's family separation strategy was to hold children hostage in order to coerce the parents to abandon their legal rights and accept removal as quickly as possible. The cases we have seen involve unconscionable and unconstitutional violations of rights. U.S. asylum law requires that each parent be given a meaningful chance to apply for humanitarian protection if they have a valid claim. A fair process does not mean subjecting them to detention, separating them from their children and misleading them about their legal rights."

For more on recent policy changes that have eroded the due process rights of asylum seekers, read AILA's policy brief, "New Barriers at the Border Impede Due Process and Access to Asylum."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.