Heartless: DHS Might Separate Immigrant Families on Purpose

Just when you thought the Trump administration’s attitude towards immigrants couldn’t get any more deplorable, here comes word of a new low. The Department of Homeland Security confirms it is currently considering a proposal that would intentionally separate families who cross the U.S. border illegally.

Sign the Petition: Tell Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly not separate immigrant families

First reported by Reuters, three sources within the DHS acknowledge that agency heads are giving thought to a plan that would isolate mothers from their children after entering the United States. The hope is that by making the division of families official policy, it would discourage people from trying to sneak minors into the country.

Assuming that news of that policy traveled to Central America, it’s certainly possible that it could have an impact on the number of immigrants attempting to cross the U.S. border. At the same time, is that the kind of country the United States wants to be? Are we not compromising our values by tearing children away from their parents?

As it stands, when foreign families without papers are caught by immigration agents, they are most often allowed to live in the United States until the court system can review the case.

However, if the DHS plan were to be implemented, when immigration officials catch undocumented immigrants near the border, the kids would be handed over to child protective services – or to family members already residing in the country – while the parents would be placed in traditional immigration detention centers until their cases are settled.

Admittedly, the business of bringing children across the border got even more complicated last year after Flores v. Lynch, in which a federal court decided that detention centers were not an appropriate place to hold kids.

In response to this ruling, Obama’s team rejected a similar proposal to separate kids from their parents on the grounds of it being cruel to the children. Instead, the administration utilized family detention centers, where families would stay for a maximum of three weeks before being allowed to go free.

CNN points out that, during his campaign, President Donald Trump promised not to separate border-crossing families. “We’re going to keep the families together, we have to keep the families together,” he said. “But they have to go.”

DHS officials have been quick to argue that the proposal is about keeping kids safe. In a prepared statement the department writes, “The journey north is a dangerous one with too many situations where children – brought by parents, relatives or smugglers – are often exploited abused or may even lose their lives. With safety in mind, the Department of Homeland Security continually explores options that may discourage those from even beginning the journey.”

Still, it’s hard to defend the policy as a matter of protecting child welfare whilst simultaneously deliberately removing kids from the care of their parents. The current presidential administration has been accused of viewing immigrants as subhuman, and a plan to divide immigrant families does nothing to quell that.

Congressman Henry Cuellar was one of the first legislators to speak out against this plan. As a representative of a Texas district along the Mexican border, he contends that the proposal “is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights.”

Indeed, political opinions may differ on how we should handle undocumented immigrants, but unnecessarily keeping parents and children apart shouldn’t be a part of that debate. These are families seeking a better life – and even if the authorities decide not to let them be a part of the American dream – they deserve to stay together as a family unit.

If you agree with that sentiment, be sure to sign the Care2 petition to ask Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to stop considering this proposal.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

56 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y9 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y9 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Telica R
Telica R1 years ago

Petition signed sad

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natasha s
Past Member 1 years ago

This is beyond cruel. It's criminal.

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Amanda G
Amanda G1 years ago

Thanks for posting

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Lady F
Lady F1 years ago

Every article I read, or news story I hear, I become more and more sure that the current Republican administration have no morals, conscience, ethics, or humanity

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