Family Separation Ruling Leaves Zero-Tolerance Policy in Place
New York City—In response to last night’s preliminary injunction that all children separated from their parents by the Trump Administration must be reunited within 30 days, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:
While last night’s ruling is a critical step forward for the thousands of children who have already been ripped apart from their parents, it does nothing to reverse the underlying zero-tolerance policy that is still punishing those who have fled violence and persecution and are seeking refugee protection in the United States. Until the Trump Administration ends its cruel zero-tolerance and mass detention policies, families and other asylum seekers will continue to be traumatized. The administration is still pursuing its campaign to criminally prosecute those who have fled violence and persecution, lock up families indefinitely, and pressure individuals to drop their asylum claims. The bottom line is that this administration is stopping at nothing to punish those who seek protection in this country. The fight is not over.
Human Rights First notes that detention is unnecessary to ensure that asylum seekers show up for court appearances. In 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that alternatives to detention programs resulted in 99.6 percent appearance rates. These alternative programs also save taxpayer money—more than $1.44 billion. Alternatives typically cost between $.70 and $17 a day—compared to $298 a day for just one family detention bed.
For more information see Human Rights First’s report, Punishing Refugees and Migrants: The Trump Administration’s Misuse of Criminal Prosecutions, and a letter from former U.S. attorneys urging the administration to abandon its zero-tolerance policy