The Separation of Immigrant Families
The Trump administration launched a zero-tolerance immigration policy on April 6, 2018. This policy requires that we prosecute all individuals who unlawfully migrate into the United States. This in turn triggered a rule where adults-who were sent to jail or long-term indefinite detention while their case is processed-to become unable to stay with their children, which causes unaccompanied minor laws to activiate. The consequence is a system that separates families. The policy’s intentions are to discourage immigrants from migrating into the United States (Hegarty).
The U.S. has a long history of separating children from their parents.Government policies forced apart the families of enslaved Africans, Native Americans, Latinx immigrants, and detained Japanese-Americans during World War II (Kaur).
Evolution of the Policy
○ The Health and Human Services department has spent at least $40 million to house and reunite the thousands of children separated from their parents at the border
○ The Trump administration allocated more than $200 million from other health and refugee programs towards costs related to separated families
■ In example, Trump administration's border policy used $17 million in unspent funds for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program (Mark)
● Immigration officials lied to Parents into waiving their rights away.
○ Some parents said that immigration officials convinced them to waive their rights, including to seek asylum, telling them it was the only way, or the fastest way to reunification with their children. (U.S. Seperated Families)
■ In other cases, officials deported parents alone with no information about their separated children, who remained in the US.
While families are being reunited overtime, the people of the United States cannot allow this to happen again. The separation of families is not a new act of violence, in fact it is an extention of U.S. history, but this history should not be repeating itself.
Communities must take strides to changing xenophobic cultures surrounding them. Welcome new immigrants and repel any rhetorics used to criminalize people. Keep in mind that most immigrants making the dangerous journey into the United States do so with reason.
Community members can also donate to organizations working “on the ground” or if able, volunteer at a host organization if you have skills such as translating and organizing.
For example, there is great need to fundraise around immigration bonds. Immigration bonds are required of some detained immigrants and those immigrants cannot be released from custody and reunited with familied until the bond is paid in full. Immigration bonds are set at a minimum of $1,500 and canb e as high as $50,000-even without a criminal record. Some detained immigrants, including parents who were separated from their children at the border, can be released from custody and reunited with their families while awaiting hearings ― but only if they pay their immigration bond in full. RAICES, see link below, has recently dedicated much of their fundraising efforts to paying these bonds.
Places to consider donating
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
CARA Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas
Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project
ALDEA ― The People’s Justice Center
Santa Fe Dreamer’s Project
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy CenterRAICES
Volunteer at Texas Civil Rights Project
Last, contact your federal representatives. Ask them to put pressure on our federal government to reunite families quickly and for comprehensive immigration reform so that we can adequately welcome the refugees and immigrants who come to this country instead of criminalizing human migration.
Barrett, Devlin, et al. “Congress, Courts Stymie Trump Border Crackdown.” Washington Post, 27 June 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/06/27/federal-judge-enjoins-separation-of-migrant-children-orders-family-reunification/?utm_term=.924141f6f40d.
Collinson, Stephen. “The Trump Administration Separated Families. Reuniting Them Is a Giant Mess.” CNN Politics, 7 July 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/07/07/politics/donald-trump-immigration-separations-crisis-politics/index.html.
United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs , and Attorney General . “Attorney General Announces Zero-Tolerance Policy for Criminal Illegal Entry.” Attorney General Announces Zero-Tolerance Policy for Criminal Illegal Entry, 2018.
Hegarty, Aaron. “Timeline: Immigrant Children Separated from Families at the Border.” USA Today, 27 June 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/06/27/immigrant-children-family-separation-border-timeline/734014002/.
Kaur, Harmeet. “Actually, the US Has a Long History of Separating Families.” CNN, 24 June 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/06/24/us/us-long-history-of-separating-families-trnd/index.html.
Mark, Michelle. “Trump's Family Separation Crisis Has Reportedly Cost Tens of Millions of Dollars and Taken Funds Away from Health Programs.” Insider, 18 July 2018, www.thisisinsider.com/cost-of-trump-family-separation-crisis-2018-7.
Oshiro, Sarah Deri. “Immigration Enforcement Has Always Separated People from Their Families. Trump Just Made It More Visible.” NBCNews , NBC Universal , 27 July 2017, www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/immigration-enforcement-has-always-separated-people-their-families-trump-just-ncna895291.
Robertson, Lori. “Fact Check: Did the Obama Administration Separate Families?” USA Today, 23 June 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/23/trump-obama-administration-separate-families-immigration/728060002/.
Spagat, Elliot, and Colleen Long. “700 Kids Still Separated From Their Families After Government Misses Reunification Deadline.” Time, 26 July 2018, time.com/5350788/kids-separated-from-families-july-26-deadline/.
“Us: Separated Families Report Trauma, Lies, Coercion.” Humans Rights Watch, 26 July 2018, www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/26/us-separated-families-report-trauma-lies-coercion.
Valverde, Miriam. “What You Need to Know about the Trump Administration’s Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy.” Politifact, 6 June 2018, www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/jun/06/what-you-need-know-about-trump-administrations-zer/.
Jessica RodriguezAdvocacy & Programming Intern at Racially Just Utah
Executive Director at Racially Just Utah