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Paul, Weiss’s Efforts to Reunify Separated Migrant Families Highlighted in Business Insider
February 2, 2021
On February 2, Paul, Weiss was highlighted in a Business Insider article, “Inside the Herculean Effort to Reunite Parents and Kids Split Up by President Trump’s Family Separation Policy,” for its work heading the court-established Steering Committee, tasked with reuniting migrant children separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
The article discusses the complex challenges associated with reuniting migrant families due to poor record keeping, stale data, natural disasters, the coronavirus pandemic, and parents’ mistrust of the U.S. government. The article also discussed the fact that these difficulties have been exacerbated by the government failing to provide data in its possession that could have assisted the Steering Committee in its efforts to contact parents. As litigation counsel Steve Herzog describes in the article, in August 2019 he requested all phone numbers the government had that would help the reunification effort, and he was told that “you have everything we have.” As it turns out, “we didn't have everything that they had,” Steve notes. “[A] year and a half later, we got more. And now that data is a year-and-a-half older, and it’s more stale, and many of the phone numbers don't work.”
Further complicating the effort is the fact that most of the parents are not themselves currently eligible to return to the U.S., and many had compelling reasons to ensure that their children did not remain in their home countries. “It’s a heart-wrenching type of decision when your choices are to have the opportunity to have your child reunited with you, but it has to be that they’re brought back to a situation that you yourself are afraid of,” Steve says. “That does very much limit the options they have.”
Paul Weiss’ efforts to reunify separate parents and children are ongoing, with a current focus on using the recently provided (and previously withheld) information to reach members of the “expanded class” and on working with our NGO partners to locate families through on-the-ground searches. The Steering Committee also anticipates assisting the task force created by the Executive Order President Biden signed on February 2; the task force will similarly be working to locate families separated by the previous administration, and providing them with the relief described in the Order.
The Paul, Weiss team involved in the Steering Committee’s efforts is led by firm Chairman Brad Karp; litigation counsel Steven Herzog and associate Allison Penfield; corporate associate Samantha Elliott; and senior staff attorney Francine Murray.
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