Trump’s immigration separation policy: a civil rights, human rights issue

Saeed Shabazz | 9/27/2018, 12:37 p.m.

The world is pushing back against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in separations of undocumented parents and children. “It will take more than the cries of babies to make President Trump back down,” according to CNN.

June 18, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein voiced deep concern over the recently adopted U.S. border policy of forcibly separating children from their parents.

Zeid said that the American Association of Pediatrics called the policy “government sanctioned child abuse” which might cause “irreparable harm” with “lifelong consequences.” He called on the U.S. to immediately put a stop to the policy and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Separating children from their families is in no one’s best interest, said the head of the U.N. Children’s Fund UNICEF June 19. Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement that children who were in need of international protection “have the right to be protected…and be with their families.”

North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a close Trump ally, told USA Today he planned to introduce legislation that would clarify a decades old court settlement that says children cannot be detained for long periods of time.

Paige Austin, New York Civil Liberties staff attorney, said in a statement, “Prolonged detention has an extreme impact on these young people. These teens have fled abuse and violence, some struggle with mental health issues and all of them are anxious to get out of detention and be with their families and communities. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is supposed to place children with sponsors as quickly as possible, but over the past year the Trump administration has ignored that requirement—using unfounded accusations of dangerousness as an excuse.”

The NYCLU is currently arguing a class action case before a federal judge in Manhattan (LVM v. Lloyd, 18-cv-1453) that seeks to affirm that the children must be released promptly as possible to “safe adult sponsors.”

According to the Daily Mail online, officials are looking at four military bases in Texas and Arkansas to house the separated children, which created a strongly worded rebuke from NYC Public Advocate Tish James in an email to the AmNews: “The Trump administration has reached a new low by threatening to send undocumented minors to military camp, which would undoubtedly rip countless families apart. If this comes to fruition, it will create modern-day internment camps. These children, who have already been through so much, do not deserve to be pawns in Trump’s political games. What he’s doing is as immoral as it is unnecessary, and we’ll fight him every step of the way.”

Sources familiar with the Obama administration say military bases were used in Texas, Oklahoma and California to house thousands of children who crossed the border in 2014. Under a decades old court settlement, the federal government is barred from detaining immigrant children in jails.

June 19, civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, held a news conference at the U.S. Capitol calling on the administration to immediately cease the separation of children and their families at the U.S. border.

“The gathering of major civil rights leaders is to underscore our outrage at the administrative directive to separate children from their parents. This must be resisted at all levels. If Congress does not act today, we will begin as early as Thursday waves of visits to the border in efforts to have clergy and humanitarian visits to these children and to show the world that America has not lost its consciousness or soul,” said Sharpton in a statement.

“This policy is really part of an ongoing assault on Latino families, which started Day One of the Trump campaign. We are urging Congress to reject Trump’s demands,” said Janet Marguia, president and CEO of UnidosUS.

“There is no defending the migrant family separation policy, one of the most callous and cruel policies that we have seen emerge from this administration,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of The National Urban League, stated, “The National Urban league will continue to stand steadfastly with our partners in civil and human rights to urge the Trump administration to end no tolerance family separation immediately and we call on Congress to stop using children as pawns in a political game and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Bill Fletcher Jr., co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal, columnist and an international human rights activist, explained that the “no tolerance” policy is “very dangerous.” The pressure must be increased. “What we are going to have to become is disruptive,” argued Fletcher.

Acknowledging that the majority of Republicans want to keep families together, Trump said, “I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that.”