Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.
November 17, 2020
News outlets around the globe recently highlighted Paul, Weiss’s continuing efforts as head of a court-established Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in Ms. L. v. ICE, the class action on behalf of migrant parents separated from their children upon entry to the United States.
Last week, NBC, the BBC, The Hill, Forbes, and others reported on the Steering Committee’s continuing efforts to obtain additional information from the federal government concerning several hundred parents who were deported without their children prior to the official implementation of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, between the summer of 2017 and the height of the policy in June 2018. Quoting Paul, Weiss counsel Steven Herzog, several news articles noted that, for 666 of the 1,556 children in this group, the Steering Committee has still been unable to contact the separated parent, despite continuing efforts across the United States and Central America since early 2019. The 666 includes 121 additional children for whom the committee has till now received no or limited information from the government that would assist the committee in its search for the parents.
The Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy between April and June 2018 has received significant national attention in recent weeks after both candidates were asked about the policy at the final Presidential Debate on October 22.
Appointed to lead the Steering Committee in August 2018, Paul, Weiss was initially responsible for locating and establishing contact with more than 400 parents who were deported following separation from their children during the summer of 2018. At that time, the Paul, Weiss team undertook painstaking, around-the-clock efforts to contact parents, establish their wishes, and liaise with counsel for the children regarding their preferences with respect to reunification. The process aimed to facilitate the prompt release of those children from U.S. government custody in accordance with their parents’ wishes.
Paul, Weiss’s role with respect to the expanded class involves establishing contact with the separated parents, whether they are in Central America or the U.S.; talking with each parent about where their child is and ascertaining whether the children have been reunified with their separated parent; and, if the child has not been reunified, determining whether the parent is nonetheless satisfied with the outcome—such as the placement of the child with another family member in the U.S for the pendency of the child’s asylum claim—or if Paul, Weiss and the Steering Committee can facilitate a reunification.
The three nonprofit partners working with Paul, Weiss are Justice in Motion, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who is presiding over the case, has cited the firm’s and its partners’ “Herculean efforts” to locate these families.
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, and litigation associate Allison Penfield. Many other associates and members of the firm’s e-discovery team continue to be involved.