Celebrating 38 Years:
THE HISPANIC BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY DENOUNCES
THE SEPARATION OF FAMILIES AND DETENTION OF CHILDREN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 21, 2018
The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (“HBA-NJ”) strongly condemns the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” prosecution policy that resulted in the separation of children from their families. The Executive Order signed by President Trump on June 20, 2018, is woefully deficient, leaves many questions unanswered, and does not do enough to safeguard our children and lift the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In April 2018, the Trump Administration ordered prosecutors to “adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy” for illegal border crossings. This policy resulted in the wrongful, forcible separation of infants and young children from their families, and the detention of minor children in deplorable and traumatizing living conditions. Since April, at least 2,300 children have been separated from their mothers and fathers. Make no mistake about it: This policy is an attack on our community and is inconsistent with American values and principles.
In response to public outcry, President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20, 2018, which purports to keep families together at the border. This irresolute Executive Order, however, continues to inflict harm on our children and families. The Executive Order aims to imprison parents who are charged with a misdemeanor along with their children for indefinite periods of time. In addition, through the Executive Order, the Trump Administration seeks to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544, which requires that children not be detained for more than 20 days. Such lengthening of the detention of minors may have severe negative psychological consequences on children who spend months and potentially years in detention centers.
Many questions remain unanswered by the June 20, 2018 Executive Order. The Executive Order does not state when the separation of children from families will stop or when the Executive Order will be implemented. It fails to address what will happen to the over 2,300 detained children who have already been separated from their parents and detained, the conditions in which they are already detained, or when they will be returned to their parents. It also fails to address what will happen to the children whose parents have been deported or to the children who USCIS have failed to properly track. There are reports that the USCIS cannot match some children with parents because of inadequate recordkeeping.
The HBA-NJ is deeply concerned about the psychological effects on the young children as a result of their separation from their parents, prolonged detention in the USCIS shelter system, and confinement in detention centers. “Whatever your stance is on immigration, young children should not be used as a political ploy in the immigration debate, especially given that first-time illegal entry is a misdemeanor,” said HBA-NJ President Hector D. Ruiz.
The United States immigration system remains in dire need of comprehensive reform. There is still no resolution for individuals under the DREAM Act. Unaccompanied immigrant children are still not given the right to counsel. Many individuals seeking asylum from persecution and violence continue to be held indefinitely even after proving credible fear.