The U.S. government has agreed to compensate thousands of migrant families who were forced apart at the southern border in 2017 and 2018 as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.

The class-action settlement with the ACLU was filed Monday in federal court in San Diego. It’s a milestone in the years-long battle over family separations.

More than 5,000 families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were separated. Children were taken to juvenile centers while parents were prosecuted and often deported. Images of children alone in detention facilities generated outrage; the youngest child separated from their family was only 6 months old at the time. The Trump administration was essentially forced to halt the policy.

re to our country’s fundamental values, and we will not deviate from that,” he told NPR.

However former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has refused to rule out reinstituting the family separation policy if he’s re-elected. “If a family hears that they’re going to be separated, they love their family, they dont come,” Trump said during a town hall in May. “I know it sounds harsh.”

The settlement also specifies that families who were separated will get an interview with an asylum officer briefed on their experience. They’ll also get work authorization and housing benefits.

Mayorkas said families will be given access to mental health resources. “I have met with reunited families,” he said. “The trauma does not end with reunification. There is a great deal of healing needed. And we are committed to doing that which is to necessary to restoring these individuals, their health and well-being.”


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