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Turning Back the Clock: Family Separation and What Could Come Next From President Trump and Stephen Miller

 

A link to the recording is available here.

Earlier today, immigration experts and advocates gathered on a press call to discuss the potential fall out of the Trump administration doubling down on an unprecedented enforcement strategy and floating the idea of renewing family separation policies for families and children seeking asylum. Following Trump’s purge of senior Homeland Security personnel and the assertion that Stephen Miller is now in charge of immigration for President Trump, advocates call for sensible and humane policies that will alleviate Trump’s border crisis rather than create further chaos.

Below are quotes from today’s speakers.

Kerri Talbot, Director of Federal Advocacy, Immigration Hub, said, “Trump’s statements did not give me any confidence that family separation is off the table. Trump and Miller seem dead set on treating refugee families as poorly as possible. This administration is making vast changes to immigration policies to scare immigrants and in the process they are creating even more chaos at the border by pushing migrants away from ports of entry and increasing efforts to deny asylum.”

Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said, “The administration’s cruel, immoral and illegal policies – including family separation, have done nothing to secure the border nor keep anyone safe because they were never designed to do that. The goal of this administration always has been to create chaos and deter asylum seekers. The tactic was – and remains –  family separation and the dehumanization of families seeking safety at our border. This administration is locking people in a burning house and then acting shocked and outraged when they jump out of the windows. Cruel policies of deterrence are not only illegal, they also do not actually deter people from fleeing for their lives.”

Jennifer Quigley, Director, Refugee Advocacy, Human Rights First, said, “What we have documented over the past several years is a deliberate effort to ensure that individuals seeking refuge do not have access to claim asylum. The administration portrays this as chaos, but the U.S. has deliberately shrunk the number of people who are allowed to approach the port every day. This pushes people to enter between ports of entry, which would have been very easily avoided. This has developed into the asylum ban which has been blocked by the courts and the remain in mexico policy, also temporarily blocked by courts in the last few days. These policies deny people their legal rights to ask for asylum and deny them access to attorneys, making sure their rights are not upheld. It has a tremendous effect on children, families, denying them access to life-saving programs and creates chaos on the U.S. side of the border and the Mexico side of the border. The next step we see the administration taking is having CBP officers conducting credible fear interviews- this is just one more step to ensure they can deport people back to torture and death.”

Ur Jaddou, Director, DHS Watch and former USCIS General Counsel, said, “The President has said he wants to go in a ‘tougher direction’ on immigration after firing his Secretary of Homeland Security and withdrawing the ICE Director nomination. Everyone is left wondering – what could be tougher than the inhumane family separation policy implemented and aggressively defended by Secretary Nielsen and company, a policy whose effects will reverberate for years to come in so many children’s lives? What could be tougher than forcing vulnerable people seeking protection in the U.S. to wait in camps on the Mexican side of the border that were described as “misery”? What could be tougher than ending TPS for 98% of current recipients in the face of reams of evidence from multiple government sources explaining that it would simply fuel more migration? But this is the Trump administration, so there is ‘tougher’ policy being considered. This is an administration that by many reports appears willing to implement policies with questionable legal justifications because regardless of whether the policy is inhumane or is struck down by a court in the future, they still see the public fight against immigrants and immigration as a win for Trump politically.