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Paul, Weiss’s Role in Ms. L v. ICE Grows as Parent Class Expands

Paul, Weiss is playing an expanded role as head of a court-established Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the national class action on behalf of migrant parents separated from their children upon entry to the United States.

As reported recently in Courthouse News and other media, Paul, Weiss attorneys have collectively made more than 4,200 phone calls in an attempt to reach roughly 1,000 families, successfully reaching hundreds of parents in the United States and abroad, in our ongoing effort to gather information on the newly expanded class of separated parents in Ms. L v. ICE, the ACLU’s class action challenge to the Trump Administration’s family separation policy. U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw has commended the Steering Committee on “yeoman’s work” undertaking a “painstaking process,” and specifically commended the “good work” Paul, Weiss has been performing.

Since August 2018, at the request of the ACLU, Paul, Weiss has led a court-established Steering Committee aimed at assisting migrant parents separated from their children upon entry to the United States. Initially, the firm’s role, in coordination with three nonprofit groups and the ACLU, was to locate and establish contact with more than 400 parents who were deported following separation from their children, to establish their wishes, and to liaise with counsel regarding the parents’ preferences with respect to reunification. By December 2018, some 100 Paul, Weiss lawyers had successfully made contact with hundreds of separated parents and delivered reunification preferences to the court for over 300 deported parents. The ACLU, with the firm’s assistance, also succeeded in winning a court motion authorizing 11 of these parents who were wrongfully deported to return to the United States to apply for asylum.

The firm’s role grew following a report of the Office of the Inspector General in January 2019 that suggested that family separations may have begun earlier than initially thought. Subsequently, the court ordered the government to conduct an accounting of families who had been separated prior to the official implementation of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in the spring of 2018. The government now expects that accounting to identify at least an additional 1,250 separated families. 

Paul, Weiss’s role with respect to the expanded class of families involves establishing contact with the separated parents, whether they are in Central America or the United States; talking with each parent about where their child is and ascertaining whether they have been reunified; and if not, whether they are comfortable with the sponsorship situation.  

The three nonprofit partners working with Paul, Weiss include Justice in Motion, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC).

The Paul, Weiss team involved in the Steering Committee’s efforts with respect to the expanded class is led by firm chairman Brad Karp, litigation counsel Steven Herzog, corporate associates David Marshall and Kimberley Heessels, pro bono attorney BJ Jensen and litigation associate Allison Penfield, and has been assisted by more than 130 other Paul, Weiss associates, summer associates, paralegals and members of the firm’s e-Discovery team.

October 29, 2019

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