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ImmDef Welcomes Approval of Ms. L VS. ICE Settlement


December 14, 2023


CONTACT: Alicia Vargas



LOS ANGELES – A federal court judge has approved the settlement reached between the Biden Administration and the ACLU on October 16, 2023, in the class action lawsuit Ms. L v. ICE filed by the ACLU on behalf of families separated by the Trump administration.

Ms. L v ICE  addressed the forcible separation of families carried out under the Trump administration’s immigration policy known as Zero-Tolerance. Under this policy, the U.S. government attempted to deter asylum-seeking families by forcibly separating thousands of children from their parents. In addition to the extreme trauma of the separations themselves, the government created chaos by failing to adequately track family relationships and the locations of the children and their families.

The Ms. L settlement bars family separations for the following eight years, except in limited circumstances, and provides aid to families harmed by these forcible separations, including six months of housing support, one year of medical support, and one year of mental health support. It also facilitates a fair and timely consideration of families’ applications for asylum and legal status in the United States. The settlement does not include monetary compensation for damages and does not offer permanent legal relief to impacted families.

“This settlement represents a critical step towards restoring some semblance of stability for families harmed by Zero Tolerance. However, the harms this policy caused to children can never be fully redressed. The separations themselves have caused lasting damage to children’s growth and development, including disrupting parental bonds and sowing distrust and feelings of abandonment. That should never have happened. Additionally, due to the chaotic nature of the separations and improper data tracking, some families remain separated to this day. In the name of every child and family member that remains separated, we continue to call on the Biden administration and Congress to support the work of reuniting children with their parents, to create a path to legal relief and fund legal representation for all impacted families, and to  ensure this practice of separating families never happens again,” said Mickey Donovan-Kaloust, Legal Services Director for Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s Childrens’ Representation Program.



Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) is a next-generation social justice law firm that defends immigrant communities against injustices in the legal system. Our programs are a first step towards the long-term goal of providing universal representation to all immigrants facing deportation. We envision a future where no immigrant will be forced to face immigration court alone. ImmDef is now the largest non‐profit, pro bono provider of deportation legal defense in California, with offices in Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Ana, and San Diego.

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