Pro Bono Immigration Team Helps Reunite Father-Daughter Asylum Seekers after Four-Month Separation

NEW YORK, July 24, 2018 – As part of a nationwide effort to reunite families separated under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy, Labaton Sucharow successfully reunited a Honduran asylum seeker with his 12-year-old daughter after she was forcibly separated from him at the U.S. border back in March.

The case, which is one of thousands still pending at this time and was subject to the July 26 reunification deadline set by a federal court, was assigned to Labaton Sucharow in early June by the American Immigration Council, a pro bono partner the firm has worked with in the past. In order for this reunification to occur outside the confines of family detention, Labaton had to first obtain the father’s release on parole from the mens-only Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in Elizabeth, NJ.

According to Labaton Sucharow partner Christine M. Fox, who led the team, a lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) highlights that DHS has, since the Trump administration took office, implemented a de facto policy of denying parole in 100 percent of the cases in certain Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Field Offices, including the Newark Field Office (of which the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility is a part).

But on July 18, our team’s parole application for this father was granted, and the father was released from detention. The father and daughter saw each other for the first time in four months the next day when Labaton Sucharow’s legal team arranged a visit with the daughter at a children’s foster care facility contracted by the Department of Health & Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”) where the daughter had been in custody since March. Labaton Sucharow obtained the daughter’s full release from ORR custody on Friday, July 20. The Labaton Sucharow team also is working on the father and daughter’s asylum application.

“This is an incredible victory for our client and his family. We are hopeful that other parents forcibly separated from their children at the border over the past few months can be reunited with their children in the coming days,” Fox said. “Fortunately, we benefitted from mentorship by immigration law veterans affiliated with the Immigration Justice Campaign and ACLU and recent rulings by Judge Dana Sabraw who is handling the ACLU Family Separation lawsuit filed in San Diego. The deadline to reunite more than 2,000 families is fast approaching and there’s still much work to be done this week.”

Other lawyers who worked on the case include associates James Ostaszewski and Phil Leggio, assisted by staff employees James Isabel and Lisette Cevallos, who provided translation services for this case. The firm is working on other immigration cases with a Pro Bono Immigration Team of 15 lawyers.