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As Family Separation Crisis Worsens and Ahead of House Immigration Votes, Experts Unravel the Facts

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A recording of today’s call is available here.
As the Trump administration continues to take children from their parents as part of their unprecedented and recently-initiated “zero tolerance” policy, and as President Trump and House leadership gear up to divert attention to House immigration votes later this week, experts gathered to offer their analysis.
A record of today’s call is available here.
John Sandweg, former Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said:
Let me be clear: there is no statute or legal framework requiring the government to separate families. That claim is completely false. It is a policy decision enacted by the Trump administration. Equally false is the idea that the United States must detain family and children in order to maintain border security. This policy puts Customs and Border Protection in a very difficult position. The agency is not trained or prepared to be the guardian of a few thousand children, which is how children end up in cages in warehouses. This is not what agents signed up to do. It is applying a security policy to a humanitarian crisis. We can enforce our laws and the border without endangering children and families.
Sanaa Abrar, Advocacy and Policy Manager, United We Dream, said:
Instead of protecting immigrants in our country and families at border, Republicans in the House put out two bills that will ignite the deportation force. The Goodlatte bill and Ryan’s Trump Plan 2.0 is not protection. It is not protection if it doesn’t give immigrant youth a pathway to citizenship, but instead gives us a complicated, unfair and untested points system that measures our people. It is not protection if we are exchanging the livelihood of immigrant youth to further militarize the border, where one out of five immigrant youth currently live. It’s not protection if children would still be dragged from the arms of their parents. Voting no on these two bills isn’t enough. Members of Congress from both parties need to stop enabling the deportation force that has existed in our country for decades – and they must pass the Dream Act.
Kerri Talbot, Legislative Director, Immigration Hub, said:
While Republicans double-down on assertions that the Ryan-Freedom Caucus bill is a fix-all, it fixes nothing. It doesn’t end family separation – a policy that only the Trump administration can end – and it fails to adequately protect Dreamers. Republicans are now claiming they will amend the draft to end family separation. Their solution? To indefinitely and mandatorily keep children and their parents in detention. There is no need for massive jails to hold families with no protection for the children. The Ryan bill is a non-starter.
Michael Breen, President, Truman National Security Project, said:
Government’s first responsibility is to protect the American people. There is, however, absolutely no national security benefit to breaking apart families and holding children in detention centers and tent camps. This was a deliberate and cruel policy choice by the Trump Administration, and it must stop – with simple, clear executive action.
John C. Yang, President & Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, said:
These bills promote jailing children and further create problems by separating families in this country. The emerging Ryan bill is being framed as a so-called ‘moderate’ bill, but it’s clearly an anti-immigrant bill that creates an elitist system, which only benefits those who already have wealth and opportunity. America was not built on this type of system. America was built by immigrants who had ideas and believed in working together as a community to make a better society. We need to think about laws that will help this country grow, instead of restrictive bills harmful to Dreamers and families. These bills, currently before Congress, fail miserably. In these dark times, I am reminded of our country’s history of interning Japanese Americans under the pretense of national security. It was a travesty then, which we have all since recognized. It is certainly a travesty now.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice, said:
We have to focus on what is true and not fall for the lies emanating from President Trump, his administration and from Republican leaders in Congress. The crisis of family separation has been created by the White House, and the President can end it by picking up the phone and telling Kirstjen Nielsen to stop it. The idea that the only way to fix this is in Congress is a lie. The idea that immigration legislation will be enacted by Congress in an election year is a mirage. The idea that the way to end family separation is to indefinitely jail kids with their parents in family gulags at the border is as morally reprehensible as separating kids from their parents. We will not let ourselves be distracted and diverted by the noise on Capitol Hill. The President started this family separation crisis and it’s up to him to stop it. Now.