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June 20, 2018

Executive Order Would Roll Back Separation, Indefinitely Detain Families

New York City—In response to reports that President Trump signed an executive order that would indefinitely detain—rather than separate—families seeking protection at the southern border, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:

Because Americans of all stripes stood up for basic human decency, the Trump Administration is thankfully backing down from its cruel policy of family separation. This is proof of the power of what we can accomplish when we join together to stand up for what’s right. The Stephen Miller agenda suffered a setback today.

But let’s be clear: There is no scenario in which children should be held in prison like criminals.

It is shameful that the Trump Administration decided to use children as hostages in an effort to force failed policies that would indefinitely detain refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Detaining children and families is not “compassionate,” it is a failed and illegal policy that is harmful to children, as pediatricians have repeatedly warned. 

Even if they are with their parents, the administration will still be putting children in cages. 

The solution to family separation already exists. It does not require families to be sent to prisons. The president can unilaterally put an end to criminal prosecution and family separation. Instead of wasting money on harmful immigration detention, the Trump Administration and Congress should expand efforts like the family case management program it chose to end last year and support legal representation. Families are screened and then released into communities where they are supported through case management and appear for their hearings. These humane, cost-effective, and proven strategies ensure both appearances for immigration appointments and that refugees who meet the rigorous standards are granted protection. Appearance programs used by ICE result in a 97 percent appearance at immigration hearings. 

For more information or to speak with Acer contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.