The separation of young children from their parents during detention is a Trump administration policy. While it is true that children are not to be prosecuted with adults, there is no law that states the family unit must be separated. In fact it can be argued that separating them is unconstitutional.
According to the Constitution, The 5th amendment Due Process of law applies to any “person” not just citizens. This is also supported by the Supreme Court in the 1982 case of Pyler v. Doe “Aliens, even Aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as ‘persons’ guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments”. The Supreme Court went further to say in the 1982 case of Santosky v.Kramer that separating families is a violation of due process of law, “There is a fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody and management of their child.”. The ACLU recently made this argument in its lawsuit ACLU v ICE.
Things You Can Do:
- Repeat The Deadline of 30 days, 14 days
The Southern District Court of South California in Ms. L vs ICE has ordered ICE to immediately reunite families within 30 days and for children under 5, within 14 days. Call your Congressional Representative asking them to call on The Department of Homeland Security to ensure ICE is taking full steps to follow the deadline.
- Keep an eye on detention facilities within your district.
According to the federal government data, Texas (15,852), California (6,527), Arizona (3,869), Georgia (3,717), and Louisiana (3,143) are the top five states with the largest number of people in U.S. immigration detention per day. Find out which are the closest to you and ask your Congressional Representative to visit them, question them on their processes and whether these children are being shipped to orphanages. Remember, the majority of these children are NOT orphans. They are NOT here to be adopted. They are simply being displaced due to logistics. It is very important that we keep an eye on the process of detained children being put into an orphan category.
Find detention centers here: https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-statistics/
- Be an ally of moral support for detained adults and children.
Many organizations are dedicated to help give moral support to those going through the detention process alone. In the Chicago area, you can support ICDI(Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants). They train people to help by accompanying people in detention, post detention support, court watch, and advocacy. https://www.icdichicago.org/
Separating Families is not a new policy practiced by our country. The United States government separated children from their parents during slavery and from Native Americans in order to civilize large populations of individuals of how they saw fit. To ensure that we do not go back to accepting this policy as a norm of our current American society, we must all play a role. We are a connected humanity and we call for all eyes to be on our children.
Maaria Mozaffar Chicago Women Take Action, Immigration Committee Co-Chair
Principal Attorney, The Law Office of Maaria Mozaffar
Legislative Attorney, Cair Chicago
Founder, Skinless Project