Trump’s immigration family separation policy: A civil and human rights violation

By SAEED SHABAZZ

Special to the AmNews

and NAYABA ARINDE

Amsterdam News Editor

The whole world from the pope to the agitating proletariat 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.

Under mounting pressure even from inside his own GOP party, Trump rescinded his controversial separation policy Wednesday afternoon.

Even mainstream and cable news people have expressed emotionally the fears that thousands of children will be traumatized with this life-changing experience. Inconsolable toddlers crying for their parents have been the mainstay of digital and print media for the last few days. Breaking news all across the dial are heart-wrenching pictures of children in fenced camps, and parents pleading to know where their babies are in the “tender age” centers and other enclosures.

“The Trump administration’s outrageous acts of cowardice at immigration detention centers around the country have weakened our moral standing and caused enormous pain for families being ripped apart,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, MSNBC host, and president and founder of the National Action Network. “Enough with the sanctimonious Bible-quoting—President Trump or Jeff Sessions wouldn’t do this to white children at the Canadian border. We must hold them accountable for these horrific abuses.”

Meanwhile, East Harlem residents are up in arms since learning that children have been brought to the Cayuga Center, in the immigrant foster care facility.

Reuters announced that Trump will “be signing something.” 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.”

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” that 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.”

June 19, civil rights leaders, including Sharpton, 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.

Sharpton said in a statement, “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.”

Thursday, June 21, an interfaith delegation of 40 religious leaders were scheduled to visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas. The delegation includes the Rev. Al Sharpton; Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; and Imam Johari Abdul-Malik. The trip, organized earlier in the week, was scheduled to hold a news conference outside the center to demand that the Trump administration immediately end the zero tolerance policy and stop separating families at our nation’s borders.

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.

“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,” said Paige Austin, New York Civil Liberties staff attorney, in a statement.

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 Letitia James, who said, “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.

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

Some activists, while being empathetic, referenced the institutionalized snatching of children during the days of African enslavement here in the U.S. Activist Iman said on Instagram, “Nothing new under the sun. How does the Black experience get swept away so easily?”

Divine Allah, youth minister for the New Black Panther Party, commented, “History repeats itself when the masses of us who are in the known refuse to acknowledge the necessary steps that need to be taken, and when we don’t support those who may have a radical/revolutionary approach to confronting this type of issue head on.”

Sharpton concluded, “The Trump administration has committed heinous abuse in their separation of immigrant children from their families, and now it is using New York resources to do it. We won’t be complicit—National Action Network will continue to support Gov. Cuomo in his efforts to stand up to this outrageous, racially motivated crackdown inflicting untold horrors on innocent children.”

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed his plans to sue the Trump administration for violating the constitutional rights of children and their families, he said, “We have about anywhere from 100 to 300 in New York. …This is a question of humanity. … It was a political scheme that had devastating human consequences. And illegal, you know, the great irony of Attorney General Sessions. … violated the constitutional rights of these parents and these children, you possibly traumatized children for life.

 Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. decried the news that children had also been taken to the Bronx.

He said that Catholic Guardian Services and Lutheran Social Services of New York have “been forced to take on a new population of children who have been separated from their parents at the border.”

He said that they “are contracted with the federal government to provide services for these children in our borough.”

He noted that he has “been assured by leadership at both organizations that these children are receiving the best possible care.” He added, “They are not in prisons. They are going to school, receiving medical and counseling services, and are afforded legal representation in immigration court where appropriate.” Diaz continued, “President Trump’s cruelty is a stain on this nation.  On Friday, my office will host a prayer vigil and rally to call on this administration to reunite these children with their families and reverse this shameful, hateful, reprehensible policy.”

The prayer vigil will take place Friday, June 22, 2018, on the steps of the Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, N.Y.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand slammed the “humanitarian crisis that is at our Southern border right now.” She said, “We are living through a moment in history when we are our federal government is sending babies and toddlers to detention camps. It’s immoral. It’s wrong.”