Trump Administration Must Immediately Reunite Migrant Children with their Parents

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Washington, June 22, 2018 | comments

The United States is in the midst of a crisis created by the President’s unrealistic and heartless anti-immigrant policies.

Because of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy more than 2,300 children were taken from their parents.

Images and sounds of crying children have been seen throughout America—rightly sparking outrage. Many of us have viewed concerning photos of children held in facilities that in many cases resemble detention centers.

The parents of these children are left to wonder and worry about where their children have been taken. Anybody with kids knows the frantic panic that arises when you look around a crowded playground and can’t find your child, even for a minute.

Democrats, including myself, forcefully condemned the policy. These families must be reunited immediately.

I joined my Democratic colleagues in inspecting these facilities here in San Diego and checking on the well-being of these children.

As public pressure on the Trump Administration continued to build, some of my Republican colleagues joined the chorus of Democrats in demanding an end to the inhumane policy of separating families.

As a result, the President signed an executive order saying it will keep families together and the U.S. Border Patrol announced that it won’t refer parents with children who cross without legal status to be prosecuted. The question now is: when will these families be reunited?

I led 53 of my House colleagues in demanding that these children be returned to their parents immediately. The letter also asked the Trump Administration key questions on exactly how and when family reunification will happen.

The administration owes it to the American people to tell us exactly how and when they plan to reunite them by answering the following questions:

  • What processes are in place at the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate the reunification of children with their families after separation? To what extent are the agencies sharing information?
  • How are agencies communicating information about the children’s whereabouts with their families, attorneys, and advocates?
  • How many children have been reunited with their parents since the establishment of the “zero-tolerance policy”? How many children have been placed with other relatives or caretakers that HHS contacted?
  • Many of the detained children have the contact information for other relatives who live in the United States, but some of these relatives do not have legal immigration status. Is this contact information available for deportation purposes or shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

To prevent future separations, I helped introduce the Keeping Families Together Act, which would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from separating children from their parents, except in rare circumstances.

Besides being an ineffective way to enforce our immigration laws, the emotional, physical, and psychological toll on these children must be considered and addressed.

As a social worker with experience practicing in medical and psychiatric settings, particularly focusing on children and families, I am extremely concerned that the profound trauma these children are experiencing will cause immediate and long-lasting damage to their health and development.

The United States should have a zero-tolerance policy for the immoral treatment of children. How does forcibly taking immigrant children from their parents going to make America great? Are these our American values?

The American people answered with a resounding “No.” Public outcry made the difference. We must maintain pressure on the Trump Administration to keep families together and immediately reunite the 2,300 children who have been taken from their parents.

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