March 27, 2023
Washington, D.C. (June 15, 2018) — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, along with others, are claiming that the recently-negotiated and just released Republican-only bill would end family separation.
The GOP is lying, according to Dara Lind, a reporter for America’s Voice, a nonprofit organization that works to enact policy change to guarantee full labor, civil and political rights for immigrants and their families. Lind provides information to explain her findings.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and others are emphasizing a different aspect of the bill, Lind said. They claim it would prevent the Trump administration from separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border — a practice the administration made widespread in early May and that has resulted in the separation of hundreds of families a week.
They’re lying, Lind said.
The Republican bill doesn’t outlaw family separation. It doesn’t stop the Trump administration from choosing to prosecute asylum-seekers who enter the United States between ports of entry (official border crossings) for illegal entry, which results in parents being sent into criminal custody without their children. And it doesn’t even force the government not to separate parents who do present themselves legally for asylum from their children — something that has also been happening, though isn’t as widespread.
What the House bill does is get rid of the extra legal protections that children and families have in immigration detention: a requirement that children be kept in the “least restrictive” conditions possible, and that they not be detained any longer than necessary. This means that, if the family is kept together, their parents must be released with them. The Trump administration calls those protections “loopholes,” and blames them for “forcing” the administration to keep asylum-seekers in custody by separating families.
If the House bill passed, the Trump administration probably would stop separating families. Instead, it would be able to keep children and parents in ICE detention until their cases were resolved — that is, they could be in held in detention indefinitely.
The Republican summary of the new bill (as reported by Leigh Ann Caldwell of NBC) claims that it ends family separation: “Accompanied alien minors apprehended at the border must not be separated from their parent or legal guardian while in DHS custody.”
There is no language like that in the bill.
The entire piece is a must read, available online here.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4) released a statement in response to policy of separating families.

“Confining children without their parents in detention centers should stun us, and the idea that any baby in America would be ripped from the arms of a breastfeeding mother should outrage us,” McCollum said. “Every American should call this what it is. A gross human rights violation committed by the Trump administration. Make no mistake, there is no law that requires this. The decision to impose these cruel family separation practices begins and ends with President Trump. Republican leadership in the House of Representatives must immediately bring to the floor legislation that Democrats will be introducing next week to end this horrific practice and reunite these families at once.”

NBC reports House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan is claiming his immigration bill includes a provision to end family separation. A leaked outline of the bill says the bill would “ensur[e] alien minors apprehended at the border along with their parents are not separated from their parent or legal guardian.”
However, the leaked text of the 255-page bill contains no provision that would prohibit family separation. Under the proposal, Attorney General Sessions remains free to continue his zero tolerance policy in which the federal government prosecutes immigrants crossing the border and separates children from their parents in an attempt to deter families from seeking protection from violence or the opportunity to provide for their family.
The bill as proposed would do the following:
  • Require that children be detained for long periods of time.  
Section 5506 specifically states, “There exists no presumption that an alien child who is not an unaccompanied alien child should not be detained.” Detention of such children would be governed by the same statutory provisions used to detain adults under this section which allows for prolonged detention during removal proceedings.
  • Obliterate legal requirements to detain children in safe and appropriate conditions.
Because section 5506 requires that detention of children be governed by the same statutory standards as adults, long-standing requirements to humanely detain children in safe and appropriate conditions are eliminated – in spite of horrific incidents involving children that spawned these requirements.
  • Close the door to protection for refugees before they even have a chance to explain.
Section 5501 would eliminate safety screenings for thousands of children who would then be expeditiously returned to countries they were escaping from.
Furthermore, section 4402 would raise the bar for initial asylum screenings, thereby decreasing the number of people allowed to fully explain their cases for asylum before an immigration judge.
Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel, said:  “It is troubling that Speaker Ryan believes that in ‘working hand-in-glove with the White House,’ he is putting forward  a bill that would end a policy created and staunchly supported by the White House.  Not only does this ‘hand-in-glove’ Ryan-Trump bill fail to do that, materials used to explain the bill to colleagues in the House of Representatives are wrong.
David Leopold, partner at Ulmer & Berne and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said: “Speaker Ryan’s claim that the House GOP has penned a plan to end family separation is a bald-faced lie. In fact, the draft floating around Capitol Hill does nothing of the sort. Instead it employs cleverly parsed legalese to strip refugee children of the judicial protections required by the long-standing Flores consent decree, subjecting them to expedited removal from the U.S. and back to the life-threatening violence from which they’ve just escaped.
“When read in the concert with Attorney General Sessions’ recent decision in Matter of A.B., stripping asylum protections from victims of domestic and gang violence, the GOP proposal is not about ending family separation. It’s about conspiring with the Trump administration to send refugees, particularly women and children fleeing horrendous violence, back to the hands of their murderous persecutors.”

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