Separation of Parents and Their Children: A Big Backlash

(ema June 20 2018) As noted in a timeline produced by America's Voice, in March 2017 then DHS Secretary John Kelly mooted the idea of separating border crossing parents from their children as a deterrent measure, but backed down in the face of widespread opposition.  However by the latter part of 2017 the policy was being quietly implemented in some areas.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement of a zero-tolerance policy accelerated separations of parents from their children at the border: "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law."  The obvious cruelty of these measures backfired on the administration in a big way.  Hit with a wall of outrage and condemnation, President Trump and his administration pointed fingers at the Democrats (for example on June 20 he tweeted: "It’s the Democrats fault, they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation. They want open borders, which breeds horrible crime. Republicans want security. But I am working on something - it never ends!").  However the outcry was such that that same day he signed an executlive order "Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation."

[Below: Selected Documents in Reverse Chronilogical Order]

The White House
June 20, 2018

- - - - - - -


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., it is hereby ordered as follows: 
     Section 1.  Policy.  It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws.  Under our laws, the only legal way for an alien to enter this country is at a designated port of entry at an appropriate time.  When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country anywhere else, that alien has committed at least the crime of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment under section 1325(a) of title 8, United States Code.  This Administration will initiate proceedings to enforce this and other criminal provisions of the INA until and unless Congress directs otherwise.  It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.  It is unfortunate that Congress's failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.
     Sec. 2.  Definitions.  For purposes of this order, the following definitions apply:
     (a)  "Alien family" means
(i)  any person not a citizen or national of the United States who has not been admitted into, or is not authorized to enter or remain in, the United States, who entered this country with an alien child or alien children at or between designated ports of entry and who was detained; and
(ii)  that person's alien child or alien children.
     (b)  "Alien child" means any person not a citizen or national of the United States who
(i)    has not been admitted into, or is not authorized to enter or remain in, the United States;
(ii)   is under the age of 18; and
(iii)  has a legal parent-child relationship to an alien who entered the United States with the alien child at or between designated ports of entry and who was detained.
     Sec. 3.  Temporary Detention Policy for Families Entering this Country Illegally.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members. 
     (b)  The Secretary shall not, however, detain an alien family together when there is a concern that detention of an alien child with the child's alien parent would pose a risk to the child's welfare.
     (c)  The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary, upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law.  The Secretary, to the extent permitted by law, shall be responsible for reimbursement for the use of these facilities.
     (d)  Heads of executive departments and agencies shall, to the extent consistent with law, make available to the Secretary, for the housing and care of alien families pending court proceedings for improper entry, any facilities that are appropriate for such purposes.  The Secretary, to the extent permitted by law, shall be responsible for reimbursement for the use of these facilities.
     (e)  The Attorney General shall promptly file a request with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544 ("Flores settlement"), in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.  
     Sec. 4.  Prioritization of Immigration Proceedings Involving Alien Families.  The Attorney General shall, to the extent practicable, prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families.
     Sec. 5.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
     (b)  This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
                               DONALD J. TRUMP
    June 20, 2018.



Oval Office

3:04 P.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  We're signing an executive order I consider to be a very important executive order.  It's about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border.  And border security will be equal, if not greater than previously. 
     So we're going to have strong -- very strong borders, but we're going to keep the families together.  I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.  It's a problem that's gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations.  And we're working very hard on immigration.  It's been left out in the cold.  People haven’t dealt with it, and we are dealing with it.
     So, step by step -- just like we dealt with North Korea, we dealt with Iran, we dealt with an economy that was heading in the wrong direction.  We dealt with a lot of different problems.  This is one that has been going on for many decades.
     So we're keeping families together, and this will solve that problem.  At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero-tolerance.  We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally. 
     With that, I'd ask Mike Pence, Vice President, if you'd like to say anything. 
     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Mr. President.  And I think what the President has made clear is we believe it's a false choice between whether we are a country of law and order, a country with borders, and a country that demonstrates the compassion and the heart of the American people in this country, for families.
     By taking this action, the President will make it possible for us to continue to engage in enforcing the law against individuals who violate our law, come into our country illegally.  But now we'll be able, in the prosecution in the immediate days forward, to keep families together as that goes forward.
     But we are calling on Congress to change the laws in this regard and in a broad range of areas that will secure our borders and give us strength and confidence that we are once again going to take the steps necessary to end the crisis of illegal immigration in America.
     THE PRESIDENT:  I think the word "compassion" comes into it, but it's still equally as tough, if not tougher.
     Secretary Nielsen?
     SECRETARY NIELSEN:  I just thank you for your leadership, sir.  We look forward and expect the House to act this week.  We ask them to do their job.  The laws need to be changed.  This is a problem that President after President has dealt with for decades.  This one is willing to stand up and fix it.  We ask Congress to do their part.
Thank you, sir, for your leadership.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Great job.
     (The executive order is signed.)
     Okay.  You're going to have a lot of happy people. 
     Q    Mr. President, why did you wait so long to sign, sir?  (Inaudible.)
     THE PRESIDENT:  It's been going on for 60 years.  Sixty years.  Nobody has taken care of it.  Nobody has had the political courage to take care of it.  But we're going to take care of it.  But it's been going on -- it's been going on for a long time.
     Q    Do you think you're backing down?  Critics are saying that maybe --
     THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, the border is just as tough, but we do want to keep families together.  This is a problem.  If you look at some of those horrible scenes from a few years ago -- to me, they were horrible scenes.  They were just terrible.  And that was during the Obama administration.  Other administrations have had the same thing.  We're keeping the family together.  And so this is it.
     And also, there may be some litigation.  We're also wanting to go through Congress.  We will be going through Congress.  We're working on a much more comprehensive bill.  A lot of good things are happening toward immigration, and proper immigration.  But we have to have strong borders.  And ultimately, we want to see it done right, and it will be done right.
     But what we have done today is we are keeping families together.  The borders are just as tough, just as strong.  They can come in through ports of entry if they want.  That's a whole different story.  And that's coming in through a process, and the process is what we want.
     So I want to thank you all very much.  I think this is something --
     Q    Mr. President what is the level of frustration that you still don't have money for that border wall with Mexico?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much everybody.
     We'll get the wall -- we'll get the wall done.  We'll get the wall done. 
Q    Did Ivanka Trump show you photos of the children being separated from their parents?
     THE PRESIDENT:  No, Ivanka feels very strongly.  My wife feels very strongly about it.  I feel very strongly about it.  I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it.  We don't like to see families separated.  At the same time, we don't want people coming into our country illegally.  This takes care of the problem.
     Thank you very much.
     Q    Why did it take you a few days to sign it, Mr. President?  Mr. President, why did it take you a few days to sign it?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Caitlin. 
She's doing a great job. 
     Thank you.  Thank you very much. 
                                           END                3:09 P.M. EDT

Americans for Limited Government

President Trump is right to defer to Congress by enforcing the immigration laws they wrote

June 20, 2018, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement praising President Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for enforcing federal immigration laws as they were written, even if immigrant adults enter the country illegally with minors:

“It’s ironic that we have a President who is standing up for Congress’ Article I lawmaking power and we have members of Congress saying not to enforce the laws Congress wrote. President Trump is being attacked for following the law that Congress wrote and courts have applied. The brazen hypocrisy of Chuck Schumer and his band of Democrats is breathtaking.  There is an obvious, available legislative pathway to fixing the legal loopholes that created this issue, yet based upon press reports, Schumer and the Democrats would rather have victims than do their jobs and legislate a solution.  Executive action is no substitute for Congress exerting its Article I authority and fixing the law, as it can be overturned both by the federal court and by a future President.  If Schumer is serious, he will announce his full-throated support for the Cruz bill, and the issue will be over before the week is out. 

To view online:

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at 703-383-0880 ext. 106 or at to arrange an interview with ALG experts.


JUNE 20, 2018


NEW YORK – In response to reports that President Trump will issue an executive order on family separation, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, offered the following reaction:

“President Trump has been brought to his knees because of the lawsuit we filed on February 26 and the ensuing public outcry. Kids should not have been separated from their parents in the first place and they still don’t belong in jail. His alleged solution to a crisis of his own making is many months too late. It is a crisis that should not have happened to begin with. He has caused irreparable damage to thousands of immigrant families.

“The devil is in the details. This crisis will not abate until each and every single child is reunited with his or her parent. An eleventh-hour executive order doesn’t fix the calamitous harm done to thousands of children and their parents. This executive order would replace one crisis for another. Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances. If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken.”
More information is at:

United We Dream
For Immediate Release
June 20, 2018
Media Contacts: 
Bruna Bouhid
Sheridan Aguirre

The Deportation Force Must Be Stopped

“The world has now seen the brutality of the racist deportation force and locking  up families doesn’t change that.”

Washington, DC – Today, Donald Trump signed an executive order to lock up families at the border. The order does not change his mass deportation and “zero tolerance” policy, which wrongly labels people fleeing violence and poverty as criminals, or their mass deportation agenda, which has unleashed deportation agents to target our communities everywhere.
The order comes after Administration officials and several Republican lawmakers issued a flurry of statements to cover up the deportation force’s long-standing practices of criminalizing and inflicting terror on immigrants and our families.
Cristina Jimenez, Executive Director and Co-Founder of United We Dream issued the following statement:
“The world has now seen the brutality of the racist deportation force and a Trump order to lock up families in detention camps doesn’t change that.
“The ICE and CBP deportation force is a dangerous and racist cancer on the liberties of all people. They operate detention camps all over the country and have outposts in nearly every city. They exist for the purpose of enforcing the racist doctrine of mass deportation.
“Members of Congress must immediately stop voting to give billions of dollars to the deportation force. There are no more excuses.
“Immigrant youth and our families and friends are determined to resist the deportation force and call on all people of principle to rise up and stop them.”
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members , five branches with over 100 affiliate organizations across 28 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States. You can find more about UWD online at

June 21, 2018

A Shoddy Façade of a Solution: The Recent Executive Order

Washington, D.C. - Statement from Sindy Benavides, COO and Acting CEO of the League of United Latin America Citizens (LULAC):

“People across the nation and beyond have heard our voices, forcing President Trump to reverse the injustice of his Administration’s own making: the separation of families at the border.

Unfortunately, the signing of his Executive Order constitutes nothing more than a hollow ceremony because it does nothing to change the zero-tolerance enforcement policy; the Trump Administration still plans to incarcerate immigrant families. Attorney General Sessions still plans to incarcerate migrant children by modifying the 1997 Flores Settlement, which would eradicate the 20-day cap on the detention of children. Never mind that these families and their children are seeking asylum. Never mind that they are fleeing imminent death and unspeakable violence. The Trump Administration has zero tolerance for their pain, struggle, nor their humanity.

Clearly, this Order has taken the shoddy façade of a solution as a truly lackluster attempt at masking what it really is: a political ploy that tries to appease the President’s political base. It may displease the President to learn that his masquerade was not convincing, not even for two hours.

There is no resolution within this Order. LULAC maintains that the jailing of immigrant families who are seeking asylum is unacceptable, and the lack of detail on the promised reunification of families by HHS Secretary Alex Azar is, once again, unacceptable. LULAC will not tolerate these familial incarcerations, and we demand that a detailed plan outlining the immediate reunification of families be released at once. What’s more, we demand that migrants be allowed to exercise their legal right to apply for asylum in the United States.

The necessary improvements do not end at the border, though; they extend into every-day life throughout the rest of our country. Accordingly, we demand that President Trump stop the ICE raids at worksites, which engender fear and distrust. We demand that he cease the rhetoric that stereotypes all immigrants as drug dealers, gang members, rapists and insects. And, Mr. President: I cordially invite you to take the lead in helping to heal our nation from the divisive political discourse with which you have plagued us.

LULAC will continue to move forward and urge all Americans outraged by the President’s actions at the border. Contact your Members of Congress to ensure families are reunited immediately! Text 'UNITED' to 52886 to send a message to your Member of Congress today. It is vital that we uphold family unity in our country as a core American value.”


The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
June 20, 2018


Washington, DC – Today, a group of senators led by Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, legislation that would ensure the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws by requiring that children and their parents remain together during their legal proceedings.
Original co-sponsors include Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Thune (R-SD), Bob Corker (R-TN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AR), Rob Portman (R-OH), David Perdue (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Todd Young (R-IN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA).
The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act:

·         Allows minors under the age 18 to remain with their families pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings.

·         Ensures the humane and fair treatment of migrant children and families by setting mandatory standards of care for family residential centers. Families will be ensured access to suitable living accommodations, food and water, medical assistance, and any other service necessary for their care.

·         Keeps children safe by requiring children to be removed from an individual who presents a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the child, including: situations in which DHS cannot verify an individual is the parent of the child; a parent with a violent history of committing aggravated felonies; a child who is a victim of sexual or domestic abuse; a child who is a victim of trafficking.

·         Authorizes 225 new immigration judges and requires the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to prioritize resolving the cases of children and families in family residential centers.

·         Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of family residential beds.
“It is cruel to separate families. But it is also cruel and irresponsible to return to a policy that encourages parents to bring their children on a dangerous journey,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill will allow us to change the law so that families will remain together while awaiting prioritized proceedings. We should pass it immediately and reunite families.”
“Migrant children should not be separated from their families, and both sides of the aisle can agree that we must quickly and permanently address this problem. Our legislation provides the solution by clarifying federal law to ensure that families will remain together and receive good care as they go through the legal process,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days and codifying this fair and commonsense solution into law.”
“I very much support this solution to a difficult problem,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “Simply put, my goal is to make sure families are not separated, but prevent the rampant abuse of ‘catch and release’ where people are being released who never show up for their hearings. This bill prevents breakup for families, but requires adults to show up. This is the winning combination.”
“This bill would protect children and ensure that families are not separated while their cases are being adjudicated in court, and would end the policy of catch and release of families at the border,” said Senator Ron Johnson. “We must stop incentivizing people to come to this country illegally. I hope that my Democrat colleagues in the Senate will work with us to advance this bill into law.”
“This legislation would keep families together while their immigration status is determined instead of simply releasing illegal immigrants into our country,” said Senator Tom Cotton. “This is a very difficult situation, but our bill provides a simple solution, one that will both stop the separation of families and enforce our laws.”
“Treating these families with compassion by allowing them to remain together and enforcing the laws on our books don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” said Senator John Cornyn. “This legislation allows children to stay with their parents while they await their court proceedings in a separate, safe facility. The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act is a solution everyone can get behind, and I urge Democrats to join our efforts so we can end this crisis quickly.”
“The crisis occurring on the border is one we’ve witnessed for far too long,” said Senator Ted Cruz. “Children have been the greatest victims of our broken immigration system. This must stop. Congress can come together and ensure that children are kept with their parents while they await a hearing. I hope that my Democratic colleagues will join us to end this crisis, enforce the rule of law, and keep families together.”
“Nobody wants to see children separated from their families, period. That’s why I joined several of my colleagues in urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the practice of dividing families who have illegally crossed the border until Congress can pass legislation to keep families together,” said Senator Dean Heller. “The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act is that legislation, and I was proud to help introduce it.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
June 19, 2018
Maria Jeffrey

Sen. Cruz Introduces the Protect Kids and Parents Act

Bill would keep families together and expedite the asylum process
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced S. 3091, the Protect Kids and Parents Act, joined by 18 original cosponsors: Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
“Over the past few weeks, Americans have been rightly horrified by the images and videos coming from our southern border, where tearful children are being pulled away from their mothers and fathers,” Sen Cruz said. “There is no doubt that this must stop, immediately. We can come together to fix this problem. The Protect Kids and Parents Act focuses on solving the current problem: it stops family separation, except in situations where it is necessary to protect the health and well-being of the child, and doubles the number of immigration judges and expedites the process by which we handle asylum claims by families who enter our country. I hope that my Democratic colleagues can join with us to stop the crisis that is occurring at the border.”
Read the text of the bill here. A one page summary of the bill may be viewed here and below.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
June 19, 2018

Nadler Introduces Keep Families Together Act to End Family Separation at the Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) led more than 190 House Democrats in introducing the Keep Families Together Act, H.R. 6135, legislation to end family separation at the U.S. border. In addition to Rep. Nadler, original House cosponsors of the legislation include: Subcommittee on Immigration Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and House Democratic leadership. Ranking Member Nadler’s legislation is the House companion to the legislation introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (D-CA) earlier this month.

The Keep Families Together Act would:

  • Keep Families Together:  The bill promotes family unity by prohibiting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances.  In these limited circumstances, separation could not occur unless parental rights have been terminated, a child welfare agency has issued a best interest determination, or the Port Director or the Chief Border Patrol agent of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have approved separation due to trafficking indicators or other concerns of risk to the child.  It requires an independent child welfare official to review any such separation and return the child if no harm to the child is present. It imposes financial penalties on officials who violate the prohibition on family separation.

  • Limit Criminal Prosecutions for Asylum Seekers: The majority of the parents separated at the border are being criminally prosecuted for illegal entry or re-entry. This bill restricts the prosecution of parents who are asylum seekers by adopting the recommendation of the DHS Office of Inspector General.  The bill delays prosecutions for illegal entry or re-entry for asylum seekers and creates an affirmative defense for asylum seekers.  It also codifies our commitment to the Refugee protocol prohibiting the criminal punishment of those seeking protection from persecution.

  • Increase Child Welfare Training: The bill requires all CBP officers and agents to complete child   welfare training on an annual basis. Port Directors and Chief Border Agents, those who are authorized to make decisions on family separations, must complete an additional 90 minutes of annual child-welfare training.

  • Establish Public Policy Preference for Family Reunification: The bill establishes a preference for family unity, discourages the separation of siblings, and creates a presumption that detention is not in the best interests of families and children.

  • Add Procedures for Separated Families: The bill requires DHS to develop policies and procedures allowing parents and children to locate each other and reunite if they have been separated.   Such procedures must be public and made available in a language that parents can understand.  In cases of separation, it requires DHS to provide parents with a weekly report containing information about a child, and weekly phone communication.

  • Establish Other Required Measures:  In order to inform Congressional oversight and promote public understanding of the use family separation, the bill requires a report on the separation of families every six months. 

Faith And Freedom Coalition
June 19, 2018

Faith & Freedom Urges End to Family Separation At Border, Calls on Congress to Act to Protect Families and Repair “Broken and Immoral” Immigration System

Washington, DC - Faith & Freedom Coalition Founder and Chairman Ralph Reed today sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging immediate legislative action to end the separation of families illegally crossing the border, allowing children and parents to remain together while their cases are adjudicated.

Faith & Freedom urged passage of either H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, or compromise legislation being drafted by House leadership, as it is "a moral imperative to provide greater priority for legal entry to spouses and minor children, provide a legal solution to DACA-eligible young people, and secure the border."

"The separation of families illegally crossing the border is heartbreaking and tragic, part of the larger tragedy of a broken immigration system that does not reflect our values or our faith,” stated Reed. "We urge Congress to act now to end the separation of children from parents at the border, reunite families legally entering the country, and secure the border. Both the Securing America’s Future Act and the compromise bill are common-sense and compassionate approaches to shielding children illegally brought to our country through no fault of their own while taking meaningful steps to ensure nobody finds themselves in the same situation in the future."

"It prioritizes and supports the intact nuclear family. It effectively secures our borders to help prevent future illegal immigration and stop drug and human trafficking. It also provides a path forward for modernizing our broken immigration system so it can be more merit-based and reflective of the changing economic and labor needs of our nation.”

Both bills, while not perfect, advance the Faith & Freedom Coalition immigration reform principles, including: strengthening, not undermining the nuclear family; promoting respect for the rule of law; meeting the needs of the U.S. economy, and securing the border and strictly enforcing the law.

The full letter from the Faith & Freedom Coalition urging Congressional action in immigration can be found HERE

Faith & Freedom’s immigration public policy principles can be found HERE.


Democratic National Committee
June 18, 2018

DNC on Trump White House Doubling Down on Separating Families

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement after Homeland Security Secretary ​Kirstjen ​Nielsen defended the White House policy of separating children from their parents:

“Children belong with their parents​, not locked in cages like animals​. Cruelty is not a national security strategy. Period. The obvious fact remains that Donald Trump created this humanitarian disaster. He can fix it and allow these children to be with their families. Instead, the administration has chosen to continue separating children from their parents. This utter lack of compassion and respect for basic human dignity is grotesque. And the blind contempt his staff has shown toward anyone pointing out the truth is a vile disgrace. This is not who we are. The American people are watching.”


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
June 18, 2018

Pelosi Statement on Trump Family Separation Policy

San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the Trump Administration’s family separation policy:

“President Trump’s family separation policy leaves a dark stain on our nation.  Ripping vulnerable little children away from their parents is an utter atrocity that debases America’s values and our legacy as a beacon of hope, opportunity and freedom.

“We join the Evangelical Immigration Table in calling this policy ‘horrible’ and the Conference of Catholic Bishops in saying that ‘separating babies from their mothers… is immoral.’
“This barbaric policy violates our asylum laws and the constitutional rights of parents.  Longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedents protect parental rights and family integrity, and make clear that the separation and long-term detention of children is illegal.  For the President to allege that there is a law or precedent for severing parents and children is simply a falsehood.  For him to blame Democrats is yet another sign of his pathological need to distract and divert attention from his constant trampling over the law.

“Republicans in Congress have a moral and legal responsibility to end this inhumane and illegal policy, but the harsh Republican legislation only makes this disturbing, disgusting situation worse for innocent, vulnerable little children at the border.  Yet, the blame for every mistreated child, heartbroken mother and father and broken family rests squarely on the President, and only he can end the trauma.

“Protecting children and families is about basic morality and common decency.  We hope that President Trump will remember his obligations – as a father, elected official and American – and  immediately rescind this barbarous policy.”

Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
June 18, 2018

Myth vs. Fact: DHS Zero-Tolerance Policy

In recent days, we have seen reporters, Members of Congress, and other groups mislead the public on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) zero-tolerance policy.

Federal law enforcement officers have sworn duties to enforce the laws that Congress passes.  Repeating intentionally untrue and unsubstantiated statements about DHS agents, officers, and procedures is irresponsible and deeply disrespectful to the men and women who risk their lives every day to secure our border and enforce our laws.

DHS has a policy to separate families at the border.

DHS does not have a blanket policy of separating families at the border.   However, DHS does have a responsibility to protect all minors in our custody.  This means DHS will separate adults and minors under certain circumstances.  These circumstances include: 1) when DHS is unable to determine the familial relationship, 2) when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the parent or legal guardian, or 3) when the parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution. 
  • Familial Relationship – If there is reason to question the claimed familial relationship between an adult and child, it is not appropriate to detain adults and children together.
  • Human Trafficking and Smuggling – If there is reason to suspect the purported parent or legal guardian of human trafficking or smuggling, DHS detains the adult in an appropriate, secure detection facility, separate from the minor.  DHS continues to see instances and intelligence reports indicating minors are trafficked by unrelated adults, posing as a “family” in an effort to avoid detention.
  • Safety Risk – If there is reason to suspect the purported parent or legal guardian poses a safety risk to the child (e.g. suspected child abuse), it is not appropriate to maintain the adult and child together.
  • Criminal Prosecution – If an adult is referred for criminal prosecution, the adult will be transferred to U.S. Marshals Service custody and any children will be classified as an unaccompanied alien child and transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services custody.
In recent months, DHS has seen a staggering increase in the number of illegal aliens using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the United States. From October 2017 to February 2018, there was a 315 percent increase in the number of cases of adults with minors fraudulently posing as “family units” to gain entry.

Prior to April 2017, DHS never separated families arriving at the border.  

DHS has separated families under the circumstances described above.  Because of court decisions, DHS can generally no longer hold families in detention beyond 20 days. 

DHS can indefinitely detain families who cross the border illegally. 

DHS generally releases families within 20 days.  This creates a “get out of jail free” card for illegal alien families and encourages groups of illegal aliens to pose as families hoping to take advantage of that loophole.

In 2014, DHS increased detention facilities for arriving alien families and held families pending the outcome of immigration proceedings.  However, a federal judge ruled in 2015 that under the Flores Settlement Agreement, minors detained as part of a family unit cannot be detained in unlicensed facilities for longer than a presumptively reasonable period of 20 days, at which point, such minors must be released or transferred to a licensed facility.  Because most jurisdictions do not offer licensure for family residential centers, DHS rarely holds family units for longer than 20 days.  The judge’s ruling made it much more difficult for the Federal government to use the detention authorities Congress gave it.

DHS is referring for prosecution all families coming to the border.

DHS only refers to the Department of Justice those adults who violate the law by crossing the border illegally (or who have violated some other criminal law) and are amenable for prosecution.  When adults, with or without children, unlawfully enter this country, there must be a consequence for breaking our laws.

DHS is not referring for prosecutions families or individuals arriving at ports of entry or attempting to enter the country through legal means.  These families and individuals have not broken the law and will be processed accordingly.

DHS is turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry.

DHS complies with Federal law with regard to processing individuals claiming asylum at ports of entry.

CBP processes all aliens arriving at all ports of entry without documents as expeditiously as possible without negatively affecting the agency's primary mission to protect the American public from dangerous people and materials while enhancing the nation’s economic competitiveness through facilitating legitimate trade and travel.

As the number of arriving aliens determined to be inadmissible at ports of entry continues to rise, CBP must prioritize its limited resources to ensure its primary mission is being executed. 

Depending on port circumstances at the time of arrival, CBP officials will allocate the necessary resources to its primary mission and operate appropriate access controls and queue management procedures for those arriving aliens without proper travel documents.     

DHS separates families who entered at the ports of entry and who are seeking asylum – even though they have not broken the law. 

If an adult enters at a port of entry and claims asylum, they will not face prosecution for illegal entry. DHS does have a responsibility to protect minors we apprehend and will separate in three circumstances:1) when DHS is unable to determine the familial relationship, 2) when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the parent or legal guardian, or 3) when the parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution. 

Once separated, arriving alien adults cannot contact minors and are not told where the minors are being held by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
DHS is committed to and has procedures in place to connect family members after separation so adults know the location of minors and have regular communication with them.

HHS and DHS work to facilitate communication between detained adults and minors (in HHS custody) in a number of ways to include telephone and/or video conferencing.  Additionally, ICE has posted information in all over 72-hour facilities advising detained adults who are trying to locate, and/or communicate with a child in the custody of HHS to call the Detention Reporting and Information Line (DRIL) for assistance.  This posted information includes:

  • HHS Adult Hotline (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish):
    • If calling from outside an ICE detention facility, call 1-800-203-7001.
    • If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 699# on the free call platform.
    • Please note that you will need to provide the child’s full name, date of birth, and country of origin.  It is also helpful to provide the child’s alien registration number, if you know it.
  • HHS Email:
Individuals may also obtain information about a particular immigration case (including their child’s), or information about reunifying with minors, through the following methods:
  • ICE Call Center (Monday-Friday, 8 am-8 pm EST):
    • If calling from outside an ICE detention facility, call 1-888-351-4024.
    • If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 9116# on the free call platform.
  • ICE Email:
Additionally, CBP has developed and distributed bilingual documents outlining the separation and reunification process. 

Language barriers prevent aliens apprehended at the border, and subject to prosecution, from receiving adequate information.

All US Border Patrol trainees are required to take Spanish language training while at the Border Patrol Academy, and achieve proficiency in Spanish.  All Border Patrol personnel on the Southwest Border are bilingual.

CBP apprehends illegal aliens from numerous countries that speak many languages other than Spanish.  Should an agent ever have a language or communication issue, they are required to find another Agent who speaks the language or to utilize contract interpreters.

All Border Patrol personnel at the border are directed to clearly explain the relevant process to apprehended individuals.  CBP provides detainees with written documentation (in Spanish and English) that lays out the process – to include the appropriate phone numbers to contact. 

CBP and ICE officers are not properly trained to separate minors from their custodians.    

The safety of CBP employees, detainees, and the public is paramount during all aspects of CBP operations.  CBP treats all individuals in its custody with dignity and respect, and complies will all laws and policy, including CBP’s National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS). TEDS reinforces/reiterates the need to consider the best interest of children and mandates adherence to established protocols to protect at-risk populations, to include standards for the transport and treatment of minors in CBP custody.    

All ICE facility staff who interact with adults receive trauma-informed care training.  ICE is augmenting mental health care staffing, to include trained clinical staff, to provide mental health services to detained adults.

DHS detention facilities are in poor condition and do not provide clean drinking water.

DHS facilities are safe and sanitary, and adults and minors are provided access to food and drinking water, medical care as needed, and adequate temperature control and ventilation.

DHS and HHS houses migrants in “inhumane fenced cages” or in an “ice box.”

DHS and HHS utilize short-term facilities in order to process and temporarily hold migrants that have been apprehended.  These short-term facilities do not employ the use of ‘cages’ to house minors.  Certain facilities make use of barriers in order to separate minors of different genders and age groups – for the safety of those who are being held. Additionally, CBP facilities have adequate temperature control and ventilation.  ICE facilities are designed for longer-term detention of adults and, in some cases, families.

DHS takes seriously our responsibility for the safety and security of all migrants in the custody of the United States government.

DHS has never separated families for prosecutions before – this is a new policy in this Administration.

Illegal border crossers, including family units, were referred for prosecutions, as appropriates, under the previous Administration. The average referral rate for amenable adults from FY10 – FY16 was 21 percent.

By choice, DHS refuses to keep families together through the immigration adjudication and removal process. 

Court decisions interpreting the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), which has been in existence for over 20 years but was significantly broadened in 2015, limits the government’s ability to detain family units. Pursuant to these court decisions, minors detained as part of a family unit cannot be detained in unlicensed facilities for longer than a presumptively reasonable period of 20 days, at which point, minors must be released or transferred to a licensed facility.  Because most jurisdictions do not offer licensure for family residential centers, DHS can rarely detain a family for longer than 20 days. 

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) requires unaccompanied alien children (other than those from contiguous countries – Mexico and Canada – who are eligible to withdraw their application for admission) be transferred from DHS to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours, absent exceptional circumstances.

Last Published Date: June 18, 2018

Republican National Committee
talking points June 15, 2018

Correcting The Record On Family Separation

“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law… That’s the Democrats’ law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now.”

FACT: President Trump has said he “hates” family separation and repeatedly said he wants to change the law to end separation and finally secure our border.

  • President Trump, today: “The children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children.”
    • President Trump: “We can’t do it through an executive order.”
  • President Trump, June 5: “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed…”
  • President Trump, May 26: “Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from their parents once they cross the Border into the U.S….”

FACT: Congressional Democrats own family separation by repeatedly voting against common sense fixes to our immigration system that would make American communities safe.

  • In February 2018, Senate Democrats blocked legislation which would have cracked down on dangerous sanctuary cities.
  • In 2017, 174 House Democrats voted against legislation which would have helped ensure aliens associated with a gang are not admitted into the U.S and empower officials to remove those already here.
  • In 2017, 166 House Democrats voted against Kate’s Law, named after Kate Steinle who was killed by a previously deported illegal alien with a lengthy criminal history.

FACT: These children are given shelter and quality care by the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement provides medical care and educational services to these children.
  • Children are provided temporary shelter, and HHS works hard to find a parent, relative, or foster home to care for these children.
    • A parent who is released from custody can be a sponsor and ask HHS to release the child back into their care.
  • These children still can apply for asylum and other protections under U.S. immigration law.
  • Parents can still communicate with their children through phone calls and video conferencing.
  • Claiming these children and their parents are treated inhumanely is bunk and disrespects the hardworking men and women at the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

FACT: The real victims are American families, who are losing their loved ones to brutal crimes committed by criminal illegal immigrants.

  • Juan Pina was permanently separated from his daughter after she was strangled, raped, and murdered by an illegal alien.
  • Laura Wilkerson was permanently separated from her son, who was brutally murdered by an illegal alien classmate.
  • Julie Golvach was permanently separated from her son, who was shot and killed at a traffic light by an illegal alien who had previously been deported.
  • Melissa Oliver-Storz was permanently separated from her father, who was murdered by a previously deported illegal alien.

FACT: Illegal immigrants are by definition criminals; many commit violent crimes, smuggle drugs, and bring gang violence to our communities.

  • By choosing to cross the border illegally, and often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants are the ones who are putting their children at risk.
  • A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found nearly 3 million criminal arrest offenses tied to incarcerated criminal aliens, including 25,000 homicide offenses.
  • Drugs have flooded across our porous borders, poisoning communities, and costing lives.
  • Gangs like MS-13 take advantage of our open borders and the loopholes in our immigration system, including by trying to recruit unaccompanied alien children (UACs).

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Jun 08 2018

Feinstein, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Halt Separation of Immigrant Families

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and 31 of her colleagues have introduced legislation to keep immigrant families together by preventing the Department of Homeland Security from taking children from their parents at the border.

The Keep Families Together Act was developed in consultation with child welfare experts to ensure the federal government is acting in the best interest of children. The bill is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Children’s Law Center, Young Center for Immigrant Rights and the Women's Refugee Commission. 

In addition to Senator Feinstein, the bill is cosponsored by 31 senators, including Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

           “The United States must not be a country that traumatizes young children by separating them from their parents. Young children have been taken from their parents’ arms and federal law enforcement hasn’t given parents even the most basic information about their children’s whereabouts,” Feinstein said. “Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated. Many of these families are fleeing terrible violence, traveling thousands of miles on foot for the chance to file an asylum claim and save their lives. To traumatize them further is unconscionable, and I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to put an end to this immoral policy.”

            “Let me be clear: there is no law requiring this Administration to separate children from their parents—Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen are choosing to tear families apart to intimidate those who are lawfully seeking asylum in our country. It’s extreme, heartbreaking, un-American, and has to stop,” said Durbin.

           “Separating children from their parents is both cruel and immoral,” said Bennet. “These families are fleeing violence and instability and leaving their homes in search of safety and security. The administration’s inhumane separation policy exacerbates the trauma these children and their parents face. It also does nothing to make us safer and violates what we stand for as a country. Congress must take a stand and end this policy immediately.”

           “These children are being ripped from the arms of their parents for one reason: to terrorize them,” said Blumenthal. “This policy is deeply cruel and fundamentally antithetical to our values, as Americans and as decent human beings. Congress cannot stand idly by – we must stand up against this senseless, punishing policy.”

           “Matthew 25 calls to care for the least among us, including welcoming strangers in our land. This administration, however, is callously choosing to enforce a policy that not only targets vulnerable migrants who are fleeing unspeakable violence in their home countries, but also inflicts further trauma by separating children from their parents,” said Carper. “This is a completely unacceptable policy in any nation, let alone one that has, for centuries, led the world by example. It is unprecedented, it is cruel, it is entirely unnecessary and it must stop. The legislation I have introduced with my House and Senate colleagues would keep families from being needlessly ripped apart, which is, without a question, the right and humane thing to do.”

            “This administration’s policy of separating children and parents at the border speaks of their inhumanity and does not reflect our values as a nation,” said Cortez Masto. “Most of these families are fleeing extreme violence and come here because their lives are threatened. I urge my colleagues to act now and support this legislation. Congress cannot stand idly by while an overwhelming number of children stay in crowded detention facilities and their parents are left in the dark as to their whereabouts and wellbeing.”

           “Ripping children from the arms of their parents is not border security,” said Harris. “Our government should keep families together not tear them apart. This policy can result in lasting trauma for those children and their parents. We can keep America safe without being callous.”

           “My mom brought my brother and me to this country when I was only seven years old. All of our possessions were packed into a single suitcase and we shared a single room. But at least we had each other,” Hirono said. “The Trump administration’s new policy of separating immigrant children from their families is reprehensible and unconscionable. This bill stops ICE from taking this unnecessary and cruel action.”

            “The Trump Administration’s policies trample on American values by tearing families apart and demonizing people seeking refuge,” Kaine said. “This bill is an effort to protect kids from unnecessary harm by keeping families together and putting in place safeguards for children who have been separated from their parents.”

            “America cannot just live by its national values when convenient – it has to be a full-time commitment,” said King. “The DHS policy that purposely separates children from their parents falls far short of our principles, and it should be stopped immediately.”

           “There is simply no way sanitize the cruelty of the Trump Administration’s policy of forcibly separating families at the border,” said Leahy. “The anguish we are inflicting is evident in the story of each parent who is losing a child — parents who often are fleeing indescribable violence in their home counties. Americans must stand together in condemning family separation, and I am proud to support this legislation to put a stop to it.”

           “We are not going to stand by as the Trump Administration continues to find ways to forcibly separate immigrant families from seeking refuge in our country – pulling a child from a mother seeking asylum in our country is wrong,” said Menendez. “We have a responsibility to ensure children and families are able to apply for asylum, trafficking protection and other specialized forms of relief without the paralyzing fear of being separated and shipped off to different facilities across the country. Only in the Trump era would forcibly tearing children away from their parents be considered an acceptable policy to uphold our values as a nation of immigrants. This is shameful, un-American and must stop.”

            “This administration is choosing to use the suffering of children and families as political leverage. Let’s not go any further,” said Schatz. “Every single member of Congress should be on this bill, because every single member should be against separating children from their parents. It is inhumane, immoral, and un-American.”

            “Separating children from their parents at the border, many of them coming here desperate to escape the terrible violence in their countries, is a policy that is directly at odds with the fundamental values of this nation,” said Warner. “This unprecedented and inhumane practice has been condemned by the U.N., is not rooted in any law, and could end today should President Trump choose to do so. Instead, the president has used this new policy to terrorize innocent families as a means of deterring those who are legally seeking asylum in our country. In the absence of moral leadership from the White House, Congress should make it clear that the United States of America will continue to stand proud as a country welcoming of those seeking refuge from violence, poverty, and prejudice.

            “Because of President Trump’s cruel immigration agenda, children are being torn out of the arms of their mothers,” said Warren. “Many of these families are fleeing persecution and violence, and seeking refuge in our borders. Ripping families apart is immoral and un-American. I’m glad to work with Senator Feinstein to put a stop to this dangerous Administration policy.”

            “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges an immediate end to the policy that separates children from their parents at the border. Separating children from their parents contradicts everything we stand for as pediatricians – protecting and promoting children’s health. We know that highly-stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm to children’s health, disrupting their brain architecture and affecting short- and long-term health. The Keep Families Together Act takes important steps forward to protect families, and the AAP thanks Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for her leadership on this issue,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Colleen Kraft MD, MBA, FAAP.

            On May 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all adults who arrive at the border would be prosecuted for illegal entry, even if they attempt to seek asylum. This policy, which has never before been pursued, has resulted in parents being separated from their children.

            Prosecuting individuals who are seeking asylum may also violate the United States’ obligations under international law, including the U.N. convention on refugees and its Protocol.

            At a May 24, 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Customs and Border Protection informed Senator Feinstein that 658 children were taken from 638 parents during a 14-day period in May, an average of 47 children being taken from their parents each day.

            To ensure the bill protects the welfare of children, it allows children to be separated from their parents only in the event they are being trafficked or abused by their parents. To provide an additional layer of protection, the bill provides for an immediate review by a superior upon the recommendation to separate, and only after consultation with a child welfare expert.

            Declarations from court filings from immigrant parents separated from their children follow:
Statement by Mirian, part of a class-action lawsuit:

            “My name is Mirian. I am a citizen and national of Honduras and my birth date is December 17, 1988. U.S. border officials separated me from my 18-month-old son when we arrived at the border on February 20, 2018. I brought my son to the United States so we could seek protection from government violence in Honduras.

            “I had no idea that I would be separated from my child for seeking help. I have not seen my baby for more than a month. I’m so excited to be reunited with him.

            “The immigration officers made me walk out with my son to a government vehicle and place my son in a car seat in the vehicle. My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son, because the officers slammed the door shut as soon as he was in his seat. I was crying, too. I cry even now when I think about that moment when the border officers took my son away.

            “While at the Port Isabel Detention Center I was wondering what had happened with my son. I was very worried about him and did not know where he was.”

Statement by Mrs. C, part of a class-action lawsuit:

            “I am a citizen of Brazil and am seeking asylum in the United States. When I came to the United States, I passed my initial asylum interview (“credible fear interview”), and am now in immigration proceedings before an immigration judge to seek asylum.

            “Although I was seeking asylum, I was convicted of the misdemeanor of entering the country illegally. When a border guard approached me a few feet after I entered the country, I explained I was seeking asylum. I was still prosecuted. I spent 25 days in jail for the misdemeanor.

            “My biological son, J., is 14 and came with me from Brazil. He is also seeking asylum. When I was sent to jail for my conviction, my son was taken from me and sent to a facility in Chicago.

            “I have now been out of jail and have been in immigration detention since September 22, 2017. I am desperate to be reunited with my son.

            “I worry about J. constantly and don’t know when I will see him. We have talked on the phone only a five or six times since he was taken away from me.

            “J. is having a very hard time detained all by himself without me. He is only a 14-year -old boy in a strange country and needs his parent.”

Statement by J.I.L, part of a class-action lawsuit:

            “I am a citizen of El Salvador and am seeking asylum in the United States. I arrived at the Texas/Mexico border with my two biological sons on March 13, 2018, seeking protection from violence in El Salvador. My son J.S.P.L. was born on August 3, 2007 and is ten years old. My son D.A.P.L. was born on March 30, 2014 and is four years old.

            “My sons and I were apprehended with three other women near Roma, Texas by border officials on the morning of March 13th, 2018. The officers put us in the back of their vehicle and drove us to the border station. Everyone referred to the station as an ‘icebox’ or ‘hielera.’

            “That day, March 13, a woman came to pick up my kids. I was given only five minutes to say goodbye before J.S.P.L. and D.A.P.L. were torn from me. My babies started crying when they found out we were going to be separated. It breaks my heart to remember my youngest wail, ‘Why do I have to leave? Mami, I want to stay with you!’

            “My youngest cried and screamed in protest because he did not want to leave my side. My oldest son was also confused and did not understand what was happening. In tears myself, I asked my boys to be brave, and I promised we would be together again soon. I begged the woman who took my children to keep them together so they could at least have each other. She promised she would, and she left with my boys. I was transferred to the Laredo Detention Center. I have been in this detention center since then and am heartbroken.

            “I do not know where my sons are, and I am very worried about them. I called the Office of Refugee Resettlement to learn about my children, but the office only told me that the boys are in a shelter in San Antonio.

            “The separation from my sons has been incredibly hard, because I have never been away from them before. I do not want my children to think that I abandoned them. J.S.P.L. and D.A.P.L. are so attached to me. D.A.P.L. used to sleep in bed with me every night while J.S.P.L. slept in his own bed in the same room.

            “Back in El Salvador, my kids became nervous every time I was out of their sight. They would calm down as soon as they saw me, and I assured them that I would not leave them. It hurts me to think how anxious and distressed they must be without me.”

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
June 5, 2018

Press briefing note on Egypt, United States and Ethiopia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 5 June 2018
Subject: (1) Egypt, (2) United States and (3) Ethiopia
(1) Egypt
A spate of arrests, interrogations and detentions of activists, bloggers and journalists in Egypt over the last few weeks appears to indicate a significant escalation in the crackdown against the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in the country. 
Among those detained just in the month of May are prominent blogger Wael Abbas; lawyer and civil society activist Haytham Mohamadein on charges including calling for illegal protests; Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, following tweets he had posted criticising the President’s plan to cede two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia – he has reportedly been charged with spreading false news and joining an illegal group; blogger Mohammed Oxygen; activist Sherif al-Rouby; activist Amal Fathy, who has been charged with using the internet and social media with the intention of promoting ideas and beliefs calling for the commitment of terrorist acts through spreading false news, among other charges; and comedian Shady Abu Zaid. These are just some of the emblematic cases, from just last month.
In many of these cases, the individuals were not presented with a warrant. Charges they face carry long prison terms. For example, journalist Ismail Alexandrani, who has been held in custody since November 2015, was on 22 May this year sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a military court in Cairo on charges of belonging to an illegal group and disseminating false information.
The recent wave of arrests comes after a statement in February by the General Prosecutor ordering prosecutors to monitor social media sites that “spread lies and fake news”.
Also last month, on 3 May, the Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to renew the detention of Gamal Abdel Fattah, Hassan Hussein and Ahmed Manna for yet another 15 days. The three men have been in detention for more than three months after they called for a boycott of the presidential elections that were held in Egypt in March.
We are extremely concerned that arrests like this, often followed by harsh sentences, and often for simply exercising the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly, have become commonplace. Arbitrary detention has become a chronic problem in Egypt. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regards the deprivation of liberty as arbitrary when it results from the exercise of certain rights and freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is important that civil society, including human rights defenders, journalists and others, is able to highlight issues of concern and serve as watchdogs. But instead they are being jailed, including for mere tweets critical of the authorities, as well as being subjected to other reprisals, such as travel bans, freezing of assets, intimidation and harassment, and an extremely restrictive legal environment in which to operate.
We call on the authorities to fully ensure the rights of all detainees to their physical and psychological integrity, and to due process.
We call unequivocally for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently being held by the Egyptian authorities for the legitimate exercise of their human rights.

(2) United States
We are deeply concerned that the zero tolerance policy recently put in place along the US southern border has led to people caught entering the country irregularly being subjected to criminal prosecution and having their children – including extremely young children -taken away from them as a result.
The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child. While the rights of children are generally held in high regard in the US, it is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We encourage it to accede to the Convention and to fully respect the rights of all children. 
The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns. It is therefore of great concern that in the US migration control appears to have been prioritised over the effective care and protection of migrant children.
Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation. 
Information from various sources suggests that several hundred children have been separated from their families since last October. The practice of separating children from their parents is being applied to both asylum-seekers and other migrants in vulnerable situations, and we note that the American Civil Liberties Union has brought a class action case on behalf of hundreds of parents who have been forcibly separated from their children.
The majority of people arriving at the U.S.’s southern border have fled Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – in many cases either because of rampant insecurity and violence, or because of violations of a range of other rights, such as health, education, and housing.
The US should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offence – that of irregular entry or stay in the US.
We call on the US authorities to adopt non-custodial alternatives that allow children to remain with their families and fulfil the best interests of the child, their right to liberty and their right to family life.

(3) Ethiopia
We are very encouraged by the lifting of the State of Emergency Decree in Ethiopia Saturday, three months ahead of its planned expiration date. We also welcome the release on 26 May of a number of political detainees, bloggers and other individuals who had been detained following their participation in protests in recent years. The Attorney-General, in announcing these releases, said they were made with the intention to widen the political space, as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s agenda.
During his visit to Ethiopia in April this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had witnessed the tremendous hope among civil society activists, traditional leaders and others in Ethiopian society that the new Government would act swiftly to secure human rights protections for everyone in the country. These latest developments are positive indications, and our Regional UN Human Rights Office for East Africa remains ready to help continue to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia.
For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 /, or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 94 66 / or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / ). 
This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights:

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
June 1, 2018

U.S. Bishops Migration Chairman Urges Aministration to Keep Families Together

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security has recently acknowledged implementation of the policy. . . of separating families arriving at the U.S./Mexico Border. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response:
"Forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values. Family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system and a foundational element of Catholic teaching. 'Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.' (Psalm 127:3) Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God.
Rupturing the bond between parent and child causes scientifically-proven trauma that often leads to irreparable emotional scarring. Accordingly, children should always be placed in the least restrictive setting: a safe, family environment, ideally with their own families.
My brother bishops and I understand the need for the security of our borders and country, but separating arriving families at the U.S./Mexico border does not allay security concerns. Children and families will continue to take the enormous risks of migration—including family separation—because the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle remain: community or state-sanctioned violence, gang recruitment, poverty, and a lack of educational opportunity. Any policies should address these factors first as we seek to repair our broken immigration system."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, MRS, Department of Homeland Security, migrants, migrant children, safety, family unity, border security, U.S./Mexico border, 
Media Contacts: 
Judy Keane 

FEBRUARY 26, 2018



SAN DIEGO — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit today seeking to reunite an asylum-seeking mother and her 7-year-old daughter fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only to be forcibly torn from each other in the U.S. and detained separately 2,000 miles apart.

Reports arose in December that the Trump administration was considering a new plan to separate border-crossing parents from their children as a way to scare others from seeking refuge in the U.S.

“The Trump administration is using this little girl and her mother as pawns in its draconian public policy experiment,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Not only is it horrific to rip this child from her mother, there is no legal justification for it.”

The lawsuit cites violations of the Constitution’s due process clause, federal law protecting asylum seekers, and the government’s own directive to release asylum seekers.

Fearing death in the Congo, plaintiff “Ms. L” escaped with her daughter, eventually arriving at a port of entry near San Diego. The mom was given a screening interview with an asylum officer, who determined that her fear of persecution in her home country was credible and that she had a significant possibility of receiving full asylum following immigration proceedings.

Despite that determination, she has been locked away in the Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego, while her daughter was sent halfway across the country to a facility in Chicago. When the officers separated them, “Ms. L” could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother.

The girl has now sat traumatized and alone — 2,000 miles from her mother — for nearly four months.

Leading child welfare organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and medical professionals have publicly denounced the forced separation of children from their parents. In a letter sent to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last month, they wrote: “We fear these actions will have significant and long-lasting consequences for the safety, health, development, and well-being of children, and urgently request that the Administration reverse course on any policies that would separate families.”

The case, Ms. L v. ICE, was filed in federal district court in San Diego. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are among the named defendants.
The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is co-counsel with the ACLU.

The complaint is at:

More information is at: