Announcements / June 2018

USCRI Stands for the Protection of Children

For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2018

Stacie Blake; 703.310.1166

ARLINGTON, VA-The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) reiterates our opposition to family separation and detention considering the Executive Order signed yesterday.

Fearing the harm already inflicted on thousands of children due to unnecessary family separation, we urge the Administration to act swiftly to reunify toddlers, youth and teens with their family members as the highest priority. We urge increasing the use of alternatives to detention in compliance with international law which indicates immigration detention must be used as a last resort.

“USCRI understands there are many factors contributing to the migration to our southern border in search of protection, which is why we have an office in El Salvador to create livelihood opportunities for vulnerable youth. In 2014, we proposed the Central American Minor program to protect children and prevent the dangerous journey.  This program was shut down without explanation on January 31, 2018 although it had proven to be a lifeline for children.  The program should be restarted and expanded to ensure adequate refugee protection is afforded to those fleeing persecution and to avoid the perilous journey and a crisis at the border,” said Eskinder Negash, President/CEO of USCRI.

As USCRI predicted one month ago, the real impact of the family separation policy has been to inflict irreparable harm, fear and trauma on young children. Families from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are escaping countries with the highest murder rates in the world. The U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the world for minors.  Until these conditions are addressed, people will continue to run for their lives.

USCRI recommends protecting children by:

  • Swiftly reunifying all children separated from parents at the border.  The use of DNA or other biometric data can streamline the process.  Parents should not be charged for DNA testing.
  • Supporting alternatives to detention as a more humane and cost-effective way to ensure families fully participate in their immigration court proceedings and objecting any legislation that strips away legal protections for children and families and uses detention as the standard as opposed to a last resort.
  • Respect the 1997 Flores v. Reno Settlement Agreement and the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) that codified parts of the settlement into federal law which sets national standards regarding the detention, release, and treatment of all – both unaccompanied and accompanied – children in immigration detention and underscores the principle of family unity.
  • Guaranteeing every child has legal representation provided by the government if they cannot secure their own representation, in any immigration hearing affecting their asylum application.
  • Reinstitute a program, like the Central American Minors program, which offers legal a pathway for Central American minors seeking humanitarian protection in the U.S.

Groups and individuals across the country have stood together this week in opposition to family separation and for that we are grateful.  In recognition of this collective national voice we call on our elected representatives to immediately act to pass legislation that protects children and respects the rights of persons seeking asylum.

For over 100 years, USCRI has protected the rights and addressed the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide and supported their transition to a dignified life.

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