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The Wall Street Journal: Biden administration pulls out of settlement talks with separated families

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is ending settlement talks that could have led to payments totaling $1 billion to families separated in 2018 under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

The government will instead begin taking individual cases to trial, litigating lawsuits filed on behalf of hundreds of families seeking monetary damages for the psychological trauma they say the separations caused, according to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrant-rights project and a negotiator in the talks. The organization had been prepared to continue negotiations when the federal government called them off, he said.

“While the parties have been unable to reach a global settlement agreement at this time, we remain committed to engaging with the plaintiffs and to bringing justice to the victims of this abhorrent policy,” Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said.

As part of the Trump administration’s so-called zero-tolerance enforcement policy, immigration agents separated thousands of children, ranging from infants to teenagers, from their parents at the southern border in 2018 after they had crossed illegally from Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S. In some cases families were forcefully broken up with no provisions to track and later reunite them, government investigations found.

An expanded version of this article appears on

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