Washington, D.C. (May 29, 2018) — Following the Trump administration’s press briefing on the “border crisis and the Democrat loopholes that drive it,” legal and policy experts hosted a call to cut through the administration’s balderdash and various mistruths. Kids in Need of Defense has a new must-read report on the Trump administration’s systematic assault on the protection of unaccompanied children, available here. A recording of today’s event is available here.
Lee Gelernt, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project Deputy Director, said, “Children are begging and screaming not to be separated from their parents, as they’re hauled off to different cities. It’s a harrowing situation, one that the President himself called horrible. No law even remotely requires the separation of children, and we filed a recent lawsuit arguing, in fact, that the Constitution prohibits this policy.”
Jennifer Podkul, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Policy Director, said, “The basic procedural protections these children receive are vital to ensuring that they receive meaningful access to U.S. protection so we do not return them to grave harm, or even death—certainly not ‘loopholes’. Separating children from their families has many disastrous consequences, not the least of which is making it much harder for them to make their claim for U.S. protection.”
Michelle Brané, Women’s Refugee Commission Migrant Rights & Justice Director, said, “Family separation is NOT required by any law, this is a Trump administration policy clearly designed to punish parents, who are just trying to get their children to safety. Seeking asylum at our borders is a legal right, it is not a loophole. Forcibly separating children from their parents creates irreversible harm on several fronts and traumatizes everyone involved. This administration should end this practice immediately.”
Ur Jaddou, DHS Watch Director, said, “Despite the President’s claim to the contrary, it is clear that this is a new Trump administration policy. There is no law that requires DHS to separate parents from children. Rather, it is a deliberate policy choice to separate children from their parents to instill fear to achieve a deterrent effect. At the same time, there is no policy in place to ensure basic child welfare, including no process for parent-child communication and reunification.”
David Leopold, Ulmer & Berne Partner and Chair of Immigration and former American Immigration Lawyers Association President, said, “The Trump administration’s policy of ripping parents from their children at the border is craven and serves no rational policy objective. As Chief of Staff John Kelly himself admitted the separation of parents from their kids—some still infants—is designed to deter refugees from seeking protection in the U.S., not to secure the border or keep our communities safe. It’s perfectly legal for parents and children fleeing horrific violence and dangerous situations to apply for asylum in the U.S. They and their children deserve protection under the law not inhumane treatment. Yet, the President of the United States and his willing collaborators are using children as hostages to pressure their parents not to seek safe haven. This is what an authoritarian regime does: manipulates families for a political objective. This policy has no place in America. It must stop.”