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Homeland Security Should Not Separate Innocent Migrant Children from Parents, Long-Term Impacts Even After Reunification

March 7, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - Today Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed that his department is considering a proposal to separate women and children crossing together illegally into the United States. The proposal intends to deter mothers from Central America from migrating to the United States with their children.

The policy would keep parents in custody while they await deportation, while children would be placed in protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Separating an innocent child from their parent after enduring the most dangerous journey of their life is simply cruel and can have long-term impacts even after reunification,” said Roger C. Rocha, Jr. National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “These children are often already struggling to handle the violence and poverty endured in their native countries. The Department of Homeland Security should not remove the one buffer that helps children cope with the trauma of these collective experiences, their parent.”

The measure aligns with President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to toughen immigration enforcement and end “catch and release,” by which undocumented immigrants are allowed to remain in the U.S. while awaiting legal immigration proceedings. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that the policy would not affect DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children and others given a reprieve under the Obama administration.

“We have already witnessed the new administration violate the protections of DREAMers during recent ICE raids across the country,” said Mr. Rocha. “We cannot allow the government to exceed its authority. LULAC will continue to work tirelessly to protect our immigrant community and help keep families together.”

The number of families detained from El Salvador and Guatemala decreased by nearly 30 percent from each country. Detained Honduran families decreased by nearly 21 percent. The detention of Mexican family units decreased the most, falling by 65 percent to only 1,187.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.

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