Will Trump and Miller Restart Cruel Family Separation Policy?
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee ruled that the Trump administration must release 124 children who have been held for more than 20 days in family detention facilities. Judge Gee’s ruling cited the threat of COVID-19 and insufficient protections in the crowded facilities, writing that “family residential centers are on fire and there is no more time for half measures.”
While the ruling is a positive development, it also sets up the possibility that the Trump administration will, as Families Belong Together noted, “use this court victory as grounds for a new family separation policy.” Judge Gee confined her ruling to children because of her role in adjudicating child safety issues related to the Flores Settlement Agreement.
Instead of replaying the systematic separation of children from their parents – one of the darkest chapters of this or any other presidency – it’s time for the administration to allow all the families held in detention to be released.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
We call on the administration to do the right thing, and to do it right now. In fact, there has never been a reason for family detention in the first place. Now that the virus is sweeping through these facilities, the urgent imperatives are to save lives and keep families together.
Don’t force families to choose between forced separation and forced exposure to COVID-19. Release families to proven alternatives that are effective, humane and that keep families together. These case management programs lead to almost universal compliance by those seeking asylum with all appointments and decisions.
In the summer 2018, a huge public backlash forced the Trump administration to publicly walk back their family separation practices. Given the administration’s immigration cruelty and the Trump campaign’s relentless xenophobia, we shouldn’t be surprised if President Trump uses this moment to again embark on a policy of family separation.
America faces yet another moment of truth. Are we going to rip children away from their parents again, or are we going to keep families together and safe?