(Arlington, VA) – After yesterday’s passage of a court-imposed deadline for reunification of families separated at the border by the federal government, more than 700 children have not yet been reunited with their parents. According to press reports, these children have been deemed “ineligible for reunification,” with the majority of their parents having been already deported. A reported 431 children currently in detention have parents who are now outside the United States. Advocates have warned that it may ultimately prove impossible to reunite all affected families, leaving some children orphaned.
Daniel Garza, President of The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
“The zero tolerance policy – which has required the separation of parents and children when they were detained at the border and criminal prosecution of all adults, irrespective of whether they intended to seek asylum – was a mistake. The policy’s removal of discretion from those judges and officials closest to the situation did not deter families from crossing nor did it make us safer. Rather it created negative outcomes for these families and our system. Enforcing our immigration laws should not require the breaking up of families, and the separation of children from their parents. We have seen very clearly how difficult it can be for government to reunite families given the inherent complexity of the situation – including the placement of parents into the deportation or removal process. It’s essential that federal officials make every effort to bring these families back together as quickly as possible, wherever they are.
A debate of our outdated immigration laws is long overdue. Congress should consider the best ideas for reforming the current system – including outdated laws dealing with border enforcement. By updating our law, removing incentives for unlawful immigration, and focusing scarce resources where they will do the most good, we can more effectively enforce our laws and protect the security of the American people.”