In January 2020, the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit seeking to reunite a family of asylum-seekers separated by a Trump administration policy that has led to widespread chaos and suffering at the southern U.S. border. 

Under what was dubbed the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) by the Trump administration, tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been sent to dangerous cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, waiting for distant court dates in an asylum system that the Trump administration is seeking to dismantle. Far from providing “protection” for migrants and asylum-seekers, MPP has exposed people to severe risk of violence and persecution.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of a family that, fearing for their lives, fled Central America and sought protection in the United States. The family is now separated as a result of MPP. While Maudy Constanza and their two daughters were screened and released into the United States, her partner and their son were returned to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, while their cases were processed. 

After returning to Mexico, the father and son spent several days in extremely precarious conditions, surviving an attempted kidnapping, and going hungry when it was too dangerous to go out to buy food. While they eventually found shelter farther from the border, conditions are so unsafe that they rarely leave the home—other than to attend church or when making the dangerous trip to attend their asylum hearings.

The lawsuit argues that the government’s actions violate federal law, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

UPDATE: After the government agreed to settle the ACLU lawsuit, the family was reunited in Massachusetts on February 6, 2020. Learn more.



Adriana Lafaille, Matthew Segal, Kristin Mulvey (ACLU of Massachusetts); Susan Church (Demissie & Church); Kirsten Mayer, Jessica Dormitzer (Ropes & Gray)

Date filed

January 3, 2020