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Dora v. Sessions

Case Overview

Muslim Advocates, along with the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Eversheds & Sutherland, LLP, filed a lawsuit on behalf of 29 plaintiffs forcibly separated from their children under the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane “zero tolerance” policy. The Trump administration wrongfully deprived the plaintiffs of their right to apply for asylum by forcing them through “credible fear interviews” while they were traumatized and incapable of participating in those interviews.

Because of the disabling trauma from the federal government’s family separation and zero tolerance policies, parents seeking asylum were confused, disoriented, unable to focus on anything other than the whereabouts and well-being of their children, and unable to adequately articulate their experiences to the interviewing officers. As a result, the plaintiffs received negative credible fear determinations, and as a result faced immediate deportation. The complaint, among other things, sought a court order compelling the federal government to vacate separated parents’ negative credible fear determinations and to provide them a new opportunity for a credible fear interview with reasonable accommodations for the psychological conditions caused by forcible family separation.

Together with counsel for plaintiffs in two related family separation cases, Ms. L v. ICE and MMM v. Sessions, Muslim Advocates and its co-counsel negotiated a global settlement agreement with the government in order to provide separated families a real chance at seeking asylum in the United States. Among other things, the agreement commits the government to reviewing the credible fear determinations of the Dora plaintiffs and all other similarly-situated parents. The Dora claims have been added to the Ms. L case in California, and Muslim Advocates, LAJC, and Eversheds & Sutherland have been appointed class counsel for the asylum-seeking parents.

Case Details

Date filed: August 17, 2018

Court(s): United States District Court for the District of Columbia; United States District Court for the Southern District of California

Co-Counsel: Legal Aid Justice Center; Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP

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