Family Separation: What Children’s Rights Is Doing

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Through strategic advocacy and legal action, here is how Children’s Rights is working to help reunite the more than 2300 children separated from their families:

  1. Lead Amicus in ACLU Lawsuit

In March, Children’s Rights partnered with the ACLU in Ms. L v. Ice, a lawsuit seeking an injunction to end family separation. This case brought the family separation issue to the forefront of the national conversation and alerted the public that children were being separated from their families at the border. Children’s Rights wrote an amicus brief and organized 15 other child welfare organizations to join us acting as “friends of the court.” Our brief argued that the family separation policy is unconstitutional and highlighted the traumatic effects of separating children from their families.

On June 26, in a big victory for the more than 2,000 children still separated from their parents, a federal judge in San Diego ruled that the administration must immediately begin reunifying immigrant families. The judge clearly recognizes the need to move quickly: all children separated at the border must be reunited with their families within 30 days; children under five years of age must be reunited within 14 days. In his injunction, the judge cited evidence provided in our amicus brief that separation from family can cause toxic stress in children, disrupting brain development and leading to irreversible mental, emotional and physical damage.

  1. Developing Impact Litigation Strategies

Based on our class action experience for over 20 years and our work on the Ms. L case, Children’s Rights is working with its partners to develop impact litigation strategies and provide strategic input to guide and support our partners, including a 17-state coalition in their lawsuit against the Trump administration over its policy of separating immigrant families. We are poised to take additional legal action as necessary to reunite these kids and families.

  1. Advocating in the Public Sphere

Children’s Rights knows first-hand from our work to reform the broken child welfare system that family separation can cause irrevocable damage to children. In addition to advocating in the courts, Children’s Rights is also taking a lead role in advocating in the public arena against the continued separation of children. We are regularly communicating with reporters, voters, public officials, and all concerned citizens to communicate the dangers of toxic stress and to explain the legal underpinnings involved in this crisis. Read our most recent interviews here.


  • To get involved, download our Family Separation Toolkit here.
  • To support our strategic advocacy and legal action, donate here.