Refugees, Asylees, and the US-Mexico Border
END FAMILY SEPARATION AND ENSURE DUE PROCESS
Asylum seekers in the United States continue to be held in jail-like facilities, children have been forcibly separated from their parents, and families seeking protection are being criminally prosecuted. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to seek and be granted asylum in other countries. The United States was a leader in the effort to draft the Declaration and voted in favor of its adoption by the United Nations. But the U.S. asylum system is under attack.
The current administration is introducing new policies that do not meet the requirements for protecting asylum seekers that are long established under international and U.S. law. Homeland Security is sending all border crossers to the Justice Department to be prosecuted. When undocumented parents are criminally prosecuted, their children are automatically declared unaccompanied minors, detained and transferred into government custody—despite the fact that they have loving parents who desperately want to stay with them, who brought them to the U.S. in search of a safer life.
Organizations and groups including the United Nations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Episcopal Church, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and many more are denouncing family separation and advocating for lawful and humane treatment of asylum seekers. We must let our elected officials know that the United States cannot roll back protections for asylum seekers.
Hearts and Homes for Refugees joins faith groups, the National Parent-Teacher Association, and other organizations that keep the best interests of children at heart, in calling on the administration and the U.S. Congress to:
- take the necessary steps to immediately stop any zero-tolerance policy that may result in harmful separation of undocumented children from their parents or family members;
- immediately reunite families separated under current enforcement policy; and
- find humane, just and compassionate policy solutions for immigration.
We believe that a humane solution to an immigration policy must include a true end to family separations, the restitution of all separated children to their parents, and adequate psychosocial services to overcome the trauma. We believe that a humane solution will uphold the Flores Settlement Agreement that has governed U.S. action for the past 20 years, which requires that children be held in the “least-restrictive setting” possible and limits any detention to twenty days. We believe that a humane solution must preserve anti-trafficking protections as well as special protections for children in detention including suitable living conditions, routine medical care and emergency health services, recreation time and counseling services necessary for the well-being and healthy development of any child. And, we believe that a humane solution must allow for full consideration of asylum claims, including representation for minors and adequate time and access for asylum seekers to find an attorney and collect the needed evidence. (A process that lawyers estimate takes a year at minimum.) The U.S. has long been a beacon of hope and a place refuge for those fleeing persecution and violence. Hearts and Homes for Refugees strongly supports the acceptance of refugees and due consideration of asylum claims.
We urge all policy makers and influencers to vigorously support high-compliance, low-cost and humane solutions such as the Family Case Management Program. The current administration and the Department of Justice have expressed the desire to detain migrant families together for long periods, arguing that many families fail to show up for their hearings if released. The Family Case Management Program kept families together and out of detention, with a compliance rate of 99 percent and at a cost of $36 per person per day. Detaining and separating families is not just traumatic, it is also expensive: keeping families together can cost nearly $300 per person, per day, while detaining children separately from their parents can cost as much as $775 per child, per day.
This administration is not the first to react to migration surges by jailing children. Each time, the American public has said no. Each time, the federal government has responded to the American public and court rulings. Advocacy works. Last week, the outcry against family separation went global and the administration responded. But, the Executive Order did not offer any solution to the families that have already been separated, nor offer a pathway for legitimate asylum-seekers.
We must continue to make calls, send letters, write emails, sign petitions, and raise our voices until humane, just and compassionate solutions are found.
We are so grateful that you are with us. Together we are stronger.
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To organize a 'postcard party' to write legislators about the issue, check out our postcard toolkit, in particular Action #2. Email us with any questions.
Want to do more?
While Hearts and Homes for Refugees does not work at the border, some of our volunteers do. Here is an information sheet about work in Arizona to support asylum seekers, please contact the email address on the sheet with any questions or for more information.
Organizations to follow: