AAP: Homeland Security proposal to separate migrant families ‘un-American’
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
Calling the separation of migrant families arriving at the U.S. border “fundamentally
un-American and cruel,” the Academy and 183 other organizations issued a joint letter
(http://bit.ly/2n8x7D9) Wednesday to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John F. Kelly opposing
“Family separation will only further traumatize those already fleeing harm, and will
inhibit their ability to access a legal process to which they have a right under U.S.
and international law,” the letter said. “Secretary Kelly, we urge you and the Administration
not to implement a policy of separating migrant families.”
Similar policies of detaining asylum-seeking families to deter their migration have
been found by a U.S. court to violate U.S. law, the letter points out.
Children seeking refuge in the United States endure emotional and physical stress.
They should not be separated from families but instead should be treated with dignity
and respect, according to the recently released AAP policy Detention of Immigrant Children (http://bit.ly/2nEuxDZ).
Separation from parents, siblings and other relatives and caregivers not only would
exacerbate the children’s health problems but would overwhelm the system and cause
a crisis in care, according to the letter.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) does not have the mechanisms to ensure coordinated
communications between separated family members to pursue their case together. The
family member who would retain documents to help support the asylum claim would be
separated from the rest of the family, the letter noted.
ORR also would face budget burdens of at least $300 million annually, in addition
to added costs and burdens to provide resources to care for young, unaccompanied children.
DHS has proposed that separating migrant families would deter families from making
the journey and protect those seeking safety from dangerous networks at the southern
However, “separating families may actually exacerbate the vulnerability to smugglers
and traffickers they already face,” according to the letter’s signatories, which include
national, state and local groups representing those working on behalf of immigrants,
refugees, asylum-seekers and children.
“This policy will not prevent mothers from fleeing harm to bring their children to
safety and may in fact make them even more vulnerable on an already dangerous journey.
We urge you to reverse course on any policy proposal that would seek to tear apart
families or otherwise inflict trauma and harm.”