Press Releases

Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform Condemns Sec. Kelly’s Intent to Separate Children and Parents at the Border

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Washington, March 13, 2017 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), the co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, led 25 congresswomen from the working group in sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly voicing their serious concern and opposition regarding Secretary Kelly’s recent remarks on separating children from their parents when they are detained at the US border.  The text of the congresswomen’s letter is at the bottom of this release, and can also be read here.  

“Proposing to separate children from their parents in order to deter undocumented immigration is inhumane and utterly unacceptable,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “Parents who decide to bring their children on the dangerous and uncertain trek to the US border are often escaping violence, torture, and even death.  I am stunned that Secretary Kelly is threatening to break up these families, and I will work with my colleagues in the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform to prevent the implementation of this cruel proposal.” 

“It is cruel and unthinkable that the Trump administration would consider separating children from their parents to deter immigration,” said Rep. Jayapal.  “Secretary Kelly’s suggestion is not only un-American, it’s inhumane and immoral.  His strategy to detain people to deter migration has been tried before, and the courts ruled it unlawful.  Instead of yanking children away from their moms and dads, we should protect them, provide them a refuge, and give them a sense of security.”

The Women’s Working Group is a partnership between members of Congress and faith- and community-based organizations to ensure that women’s voices are heard in the immigration debate, and that America’s immigration policies reflect the interests of women and children.

The text of the congresswomen’s letter follows.  In addition, two Women’s Working Group organizations, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Catholic Charities USA, have sent letters on this subject to Secretary Kelly.  The NIJC letter can be read here, and the Catholic Charities USA letter can be read here.

Dear Secretary Kelly:

As members of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, a partnership between members of Congress and faith and community-based organizations, we are writing to express our serious concern and opposition to an immigration plan you recently discussed in the media. You appeared to acknowledge a Trump Administration plan to separate immigrant children from their parents when families are apprehended by US Border Patrol agents in order to deter them from coming.

Interfering with the parent-child bond is always inappropriate under normal circumstances. Interfering with that bond and separating children from their loving parents as a government tactic to enforce any government policy is inhumane and obscene. Your apparent intent to follow such a practice as a means to enforce our nation’s immigration policy goes blatantly against our American values.

Immigrant families who arrive at our borders and ports of entry are often fleeing violence, torture and the real threat of death in their own home countries. They come to America to protect their children and preserve their family. They undertake the long and often dangerous journey because they know that to remain at home would likely ensure a far worse fate for them. Separating these families by segregating parents from their children serves no national security purpose and would serve only to further traumatize these already injured families and their fragile children.

A government that separates children from parents as a matter of official policy in order to deter another action, in this case undocumented immigration, goes counter to everything our country stands for and holds dear. Moreover, the courts ruled in 2015 that a blanket no-release policy in order to deter future migration is a violation of federal immigration law and regulations, as well as the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We believe such an anti-family policy is wrongheaded and we strongly urge you to not implement such a cruel policy in any form as part of our immigration strategy.

America’s protection of the defenseless makes our nation stand out in the world. Eroding any family solely because of their immigrant status will only serve to undermine our country’s reputation and will not make America safer. It will only confirm what our opponents say of our nation and further fan the flames of hate they feel toward us.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Nanette Barragán
Rep. Karen Bass
Rep. Judy Chu
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. Rosa DeLauro
Rep. Suzan DelBene
Rep. Debbie Dingell
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Brenda Lawrence
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Rep. Nita Lowey
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham
Rep. Doris Matsui
Rep. Grace Meng
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. Grace Napolitano
Rep. Linda Sánchez
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Rep. Jackie Speier
Rep. Dina Titus
Rep. Norma Torres
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

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