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Policy and Legal Experts Respond to Trump’s Executive Order

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A recording of today’s event is available here

Following today’s issuance of an executive order regarding border policy by President Donald Trump, policy and legal experts gathered to discuss what’s next.

Michelle Brane, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program, Women’s Refugee Commission, said:

The executive order President Trump just signed is no solution. First, there are more than 2,000 children already separated from their parents. The Executive Order does nothing to address that nightmare. Second, this executive order effectively creates family prisons, which we already know are a threat to the well-being of children. Let’s bear in mind that family detention has repeatedly been found to be unsuitable for children. Trading family separation for family detention is not a solution. Courts, child welfare experts, medical professionals, and many others have repeatedly found that family detention is harmful to children. We know that it puts them at risk of sexual assault and denies them access to meaningful mental health and medical care. It solves nothing and leaves the most vulnerable open to this horrific policy.  This simply trades one source of childhood trauma for another.

Kerri Talbot, Legislative Director, The Immigration Hub, said:

Plain and simple: the Trump administration’s Executive Order does not end family separation. It’s a restatement of the current policy to prosecute, detain, and deport Central American asylum seekers. The goal of Stephen Miller and the Trump administration is clear: to jail kids and families — even those who have entered legally — as long as possible and to deport them as soon as possible. Don’t be fooled: families will not be detained in ‘residential’ centers; they will be detained in prisons. It’s unfortunate that the executive order blames Congress for these actions. You know what’s really unfortunate? Trump started this policy, and this order doesn’t end it.

Karen Tumlin, Director of Legal Strategy, National Immigration Law Center, said:

The President doesn’t get any brownie points for moving from a policy of locking up kids and families separately to a policy of locking them up together. Let’s be clear: Trump is making a crisis of his own creation worse. The Trump administration pretends that alternatives to detention don’t exist. This is false: our country has an existing system to process asylum claims. We should treat families seeking safety with dignity and with heart, not put them in jails.  If the President and his administration continue these shameful policies, as a mother, I will use my voice to stand side-by-side with the parents who risked everything to try to seek safety for their children. And, as an attorney, I will not hesitate to use every legal tool available to challenge these policies in court. The Trump administration, may wish it was otherwise, but under our law all people have rights, regardless of where we were born or how we come here.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice, said:

There is much we don’t know about what this means and what will happen now. We do know that Trump and his administration lie. We know the President said repeatedly that only Congress could act, when we know it his policy and his to stop. We know the Stephen Miller/Jeff Sessions legislative agenda is a cynical diversion and an attempt at blackmail. And we know that their goal is to lock up families in jails indefinitely, accelerate the asylum process, and gut asylum standards — all in the service of sending most would-be refugees back to the burning house they’ve escaped. There is a way to use case management strategies to ensure compliance so that families who are released show up for their hearings. There is a way to balance priorities that don’t involve locking up kids, separating families and sending refugees to their death. But we are deeply concerned that this executive order will merely exchange a morally reprehensible zero tolerance policy that results in family separation for a morally reprehensible zero tolerance strategy that results in the prolonged internment of children with their families — followed by deportation to the dangers they fled. This fight is long from over.