US Policy Forcibly Separating Children from Parents Is Inhumane

Saul Bowman
June 4, 2018

We have to look closely at why children are running and the root causes of problem, and not just assume you can shut the border, turn a blind eye and everything will be okay.

Carrying posters, placards and chanting slogans, protesters demanded that the Trump administration end funding to the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs Border Patrol.

"This is indeed an emergency - every single day children are ripped apart from their parents and the Trump administration must immediately cease this policy", said Jessica Morales, chairwoman of We Belong Together, an immigrant advocacy group.

Reverend Jennifer Butler, from Faith in Public Life, called the policy as a "moral abomination".

The White House is "really beating the immigration drum in the lead-up to the midterm elections as a rallying cry and as a way of mobilizing voter support for Trump and the candidates that he chooses", said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute and former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration. In the past, families would be held and often deported.

The latest figures do not distinguish between minors who arrive without a parent and those who are separated from their mothers and fathers after they cross the border.

"It happened under [George W] Bush and under [Barack] Obama". But that is precisely the word that comes to mind as we review the recent controversy that erupted over whether the federal government "lost" 1,475 migrant children who had been placed in the homes of caregivers. It was subsequently reported that almost 1,500 immigrant children had been "lost" while in federal custody until the end of previous year.

HHS reported Tuesday that 10,773 migrant children were in custody at the end of May, compared to 8,886 on April 29, a result of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration outlined in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. As a result, those adults traveling with children are now being separated once detained because children can not be held in adult jails. "They're not making individual determinations", said Olivares, who estimates that McAllen "very likely" has the highest number of family separations in the country, with hundreds of separations having occurred over the past two months.

The government sees the policy as a necessary deterrent to illegal immigration, but the critics say it is cruel to refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America.

The prosecution of asylum seekers is in contravention of the 1967 Refugee Convention to which the USA is a signatory.

"There is no process in place for children to communicate with their parents, or for them to know where their parents are or, vice versa, for the parents to communicate with their children", the complaint reads.

"If you call a friend and they don't answer the phone, you don't assume that they've been kidnapped", Health and Human Services' Steven Wagner said.

Trump's own daughter Ivanka was blasted across social media last week when she posted a photograph of herself with her son in her arms. Those found guilty can be imprisoned for up to two years.

"It's going to take longer for the message to get back to those countries", the agent said. Is the federal government equipped to handle the new "zero tolerance" policy? Macke arrested 19 undocumented immigrants a year ago.

"Trump has a mission".

"It appeals to his base".

Enriquez told Al Jazeera that undocumented migrants were "at the crosshairs of his policy".

A Customs and Border Protection official told lawmakers last week that 658 children had been separated from their parents at the border from May 6 to May 19 as the parents face charges. Based on US Citizenship and Immigration Services data, the credible fear passage rate was almost 80% in fiscal year 2017, which takes into account that these individuals are likely to be traumatized, unfamiliar with US law and have little English-language skills.

The White House has wrongly blamed Democrats for forcing the Trump administration to separate children from parents.

Exel Estrada, 19, from Guatemala, told Al Jazeera that he had come to the USA as an undocumented minor in 2013.

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