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June 28, 2018 RAPID RESPONSE

Trump's Policy of Separating Families at the Border: U.S. Law, Court Rulings and Administration Policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his “zero tolerance” policy in April, requiring all those apprehended crossing the border between ports of entry to be referred for criminal prosecution, including parents traveling with small children. As a result, the Trump administration separated approximately 2,500 children from their parents at the Southwest border. This policy ignited bipartisan outrage from all sectors of society including Congress, immigration and civil rights leaders, the religious community, medical professionals, private citizens, and many more. After weeks of sustained criticism President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20 reversing this damaging policy while at the same time proposing prolonged detention for these families “to the extent permitted by law.” Meanwhile, according to a Department of Homeland Security “Fact Sheet” from June 23, a total of 522 children have been reunified with parents and another 2,053 remain in detention. The Trump administration implemented this policy by choice and ended it due to overwhelming criticism. No law or court ruling mandates family separations. Join us to hear our experts discuss the latest updates regarding reunification efforts and the administration’s attempt to amend the Flores Settlement Agreement to allow prolonged detention of families.


  • Prudence Beidler Carr, Director of the ABA’s Center on Children and the Law and formerly of the Department of Homeland Security Office of General Counsel
  • Denise L. Gilman, Clinical Professor and Director of the Immigration Clinic at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Meredith A. Linsky, Director of the ABA Commission on Immigration

Co-Sponsor: ABA Commission on Immigration

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