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February 18, 2020
A CBS News article highlights Paul, Weiss’s critically important new effort as head of a court-established Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the class action on behalf of migrant parents separated from their children upon entry to the United States, Ms. L. v. ICE.
The article noted that Paul, Weiss and its NGO partners are engaged in a renewed, large-scale effort to find and communicate with parents deported without their children before the official implementation of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. In October 2019, the U.S. government revealed it had separated an additional 1,556 children from their parents between the summer of 2017 and the height of the policy in June 2018.
CBS News notes that, under a September 2019 court order allowing 11 parents to return to the U.S. to pursue their asylum claims, some of the newly-identified parents may now be eligible to return as well to pursue similar claims. As of early February 2020, the Steering Committee had reached 346 parents or their attorneys, including 113 on the ground in their home countries, but were initially unable to reach nearly 700 others, often because the phone numbers provided by the administration were outdated. The committee continues to search for the rest, sending more than 1,500 letters to addresses provided by the government and establishing hotlines for separated parents. When U.S. immigration files don't include a home address, advocates have turned to local public records.
The firm’s original 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 for the children regarding their preferences with respect to reunification. Our role with respect to the expanded class 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 work Paul, Weiss is doing could contribute to potential future claims by the extended class of deported parents to return and to pursue asylum.
The three nonprofit partners working with Paul, Weiss are Justice in Motion, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). Judge Sabraw cited the firm’s and its partners’ “Herculean efforts” to locate these families, CBS News noted.
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, pro bono counsel Emily Goldberg, corporate associate David Marshall, pro bono Attorney BJ Jensen and litigation associate Allison Penfield. Many other associates and members of the firm’s e-Discovery team continue to be involved.
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