The Child Welfare League of America has joined onto a Five Principles to Guide Any Changes to Immigration Law, Policy or Procedure. Joining with other national, state and local organizations, the signatories agree that children require special care in any immigration legislation including legislation that may deal with increased enforcement. The statement highlights 5 key points:
- Children are different from adults and should be afforded special protections.
- Children cannot have a fair immigration proceeding without an attorney to represent them.
- Children need time to establish trust.
- Safety must be a paramount concern when investigating each child’s unique story.
- The government should not disrupt the parent-child relationship except in extraordinary circumstances, and only then to protect the child’s safety.
The statement of principles and a joint statement to the House Judiciary Committee comes as that Committee passed the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver In Support of State and Local Law Enforcement Act. The bill, (HR 2431) creates a larger deportation force and increased detention.
More than 22 organizations, including CWLA highlighted their concerns about the legislation’s impact saying,
“We are deeply concerned with the impact such enforcement actions would have on the mental and physical health of children. One study found that nearly 30 percent of children with one or more undocumented parent reported being afraid nearly all or most of the time, and three-quarters of undocumented parents reported their children were experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trauma of losing a parent to immigration enforcement actions has proven to have severe consequences to the child’s well-being. Research shows that a child is more likely to experience long-term behavioral changes when they witness their parent’s apprehension, an occurrence that is much more common when local police are engaged in immigration enforcement activities.”
In addition to CWLA, some of the organizations expressing their opposition included, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), First Focus Campaign for Children, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Center for Youth Law, Ounce of Prevention Fund, Ready At Five, Voices for Ohio’s Children, Voices for Utah Children, and the Women’s Refugee Commission.