Family Separation, Three Years On

Jan. 29, 2021

Jacob Soboroff, NBC News and MSNBC correspondent and bestselling author, and Sue Kenney-Pfalzer, HIAS’ director for the Border and Asylum Network, discussed the current state of the family separation crisis, the impact it has had, and how organizations like HIAS are using our national legal and asylum networks to fight back.

In the summer of 2018, between 3,000 and 4,000 children were forcibly taken from their parents as a result of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy against those seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Years later, hundreds of families still remain separated, and some parents may never see their children again. Even families who have been reunited suffer from ongoing legal issues, as well as the psychological distress caused by the ordeal. And although the policy of zero tolerance is no longer in effect and rates have decreased, these separations do still occur due to the U.S.’ widespread use of detention.

Originally published at



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HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 16 countries.