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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Sends Letter to DHS Opposing Separation of Mothers and Children at the Border

Mar 8, 2017
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined other members of the CHC in sending a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly opposing a policy that would separate children from their mothers at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Chairwoman Lujan Grisham said, “To tear children from their mothers as a deterrent policy is heinous. It’s an egregious policy that questions basic human rights and our country’s moral standing in the world. There are better, more sensible immigration procedures that protect families while they proceed through the asylum application process.”

This is the fifth formal letter that the CHC Chairwoman has sent to a DHS agency. Two letters requested a meeting with U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas D. Homan – that meeting has still not been scheduled. Another letter requested a meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan – that meeting has still not been scheduled. The last letter was sent by over 140 Democrats to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

COPY OF LETTER

March 8, 2017

 

The Honorable John F. Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

 

Dear Secretary Kelly:

We are extremely concerned that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering separating parents from children at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is appalling that DHS would try to use family separation as a deterrent aimed at families fleeing violence. Our country has a longstanding history of welcoming refugees and immigrants.  We have been a beacon of hope for individuals fleeing dangerous conditions.  This proposed policy would tarnish this history by taking a punitive approach towards vulnerable women and children. Moreover, a U.S. Federal Court has already made it clear detention cannot be used as a way to deter future migration. For these reasons, we oppose the implementation of any policy that would separate children from their families.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is not alone in opposing this proposal. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement saying that “proposals to separate children from their families as a tool of law enforcement to deter immigration are harsh and counterproductive” and that federal authorities should “exercise caution  to ensure that the emotional and physical stress children experience as they seek refuge in the United States is not exacerbated by the additional trauma of being separated from their siblings, parents or other relatives and caregivers.” It is clear that this policy will cause permanent and irreparable psychological harm to migrant children.

Family separation at the border is not only harmful to children’s well-being but could also violate international laws meant to protect families and children. Per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a family unit should be respected and protected. In addition, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides that children have a right to live with their parents and directs State Parties to ensure that a child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment based on his or her parents’ or guardians’ legal status. Additionally, the concept in the CRC of the “best interests of the child” is a foundational principle of child protection and is central to all U.S. state court proceedings involving children, particularly when separation from family is at issue.

Families seeking asylum at our border are fleeing violence in their home countries and have survived a treacherous journey in order into make it to the U.S.  We must ensure that these families are protected and able to avail themselves of our legal asylum process. There is nothing in this proposal that would make Americans safer; instead it flies in the face of our core values by further traumatizing vulnerable women and children.  This is not who we are as a nation.

Sincerely,

# # #

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.

Media Contact:

Carlos Paz Jr.

202-225-6316

carlos.paz@mail.house.gov