BOSTON, July 25, 2018: After weeks of sustained advocacy, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, the Brazilian Worker Center, and Morgan Lewis helped reunite a mother and her 5-year-old daughter who were separated two months ago near the Texas border. The mother and daughter arrived in the United States seeking asylum; they crossed the border on May 14 and immediately presented themselves to border officials. The daughter was forcibly separated from her mother and sent to Chicago, over 1,000 miles away from her mother who was held in a detention facility in Texas. During their two-month period of separation, the mother was given false information about her daughter’s whereabouts and had limited contact with her daughter.
"These past two months have been extremely traumatic for both me and my daughter,” the mother said through a translator. “We came to the United States in search of safety and freedom from fear, but instead, we have walked into a terrible nightmare that has caused and continues to cause harm to me and my daughter. I am her mother, I love her, and she should never have been taken away from me."
Morgan Lewis teamed up with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice in early July to provide pro bono legal assistance to this family.
“Immigrant mothers continue turning to the Lawyers’ Committee for free legal help in locating and obtaining their young children,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “This tragedy must end. This is a national shame. Children belong with their parents.”
Following three weeks of persistent advocacy, the legal team decided on July 20 to file an emergency complaint in federal court if reunification did not happen by July 23. Morgan Lewis attorneys across the country—in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC—rapidly mobilized to provide valuable support and assistance over the weekend. The mother and her daughter were reunited early Monday morning, without having to file a lawsuit.
“We have rights under American and international law that must be recognized,” said Natalicia Tracy, executive director of the Brazilian Worker Center. “The Brazilian Worker Center will not rest until all the families have been reunited.”
Morgan Lewis of counsel Michelle L. Andrighetto, who led the pro bono team, said she was pleased with the final outcome.
“Morgan Lewis has a long history of pro bono service, and over the years, our advocacy has had a tangible impact on the lives of so many,” she said. “We were deeply moved by the story of this family and committed to fiercely advocating on their behalf. We had no intention of resting until mother and daughter were reunified. It’s difficult to express how absolutely thrilled we are with this fantastic result.”