The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights released report on family separation under the Trump Administration titled, Family Separation is Not Over. The report shared how even after the Zero Tolerance Policy ended, children have continued being separated from their parents.
During the administration’s Zero Tolerance policy, the government separated nearly 4,500 children from their parents. Its stated motive: to deter families from seeking protection in the United States. Since the end of this policy, another 1,100 children have been separated from their parents based on alleged criminal histories, which frequently have no bearing on a parent’s ability to care for a child. The reports provides, “three instances in which family separation might still be permissible: danger to the child, communicable disease, and criminal history of the parent. Unfortunately, these factors were left vague and undefined, leaving wide room for interpretation.”
The Young Center’s role in helping unaccompanied children is to determine the best interests of the child in each decision made about that child. As a child advocate they provide information to the court on placement, access to critical services, and balancing the child’s expressed wishes with best interests and child’s safety. The report provides six recommendations for Congress, federal agencies, and other policy makers, centered on the need to prioritize children’s best interests in every decision that affects their lives.
- Every government agency must make the best interests of the child a primary consideration in every decision about a child.
- Congress and agency policy must prohibit family separation in all but the most exceptional cases.
- Every decision to temporarily separate a child from a parent must be subject to prompt review by a court with expertise in child protection and parental rights—not immigration enforcement officials.
- Federal agencies (DHS, DOJ, and HHS) should ensure that every child separated from a parent has an attorney and an independent Child Advocate.
- Congress must protect the Flores Settlement Agreement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) which provide critical protections for children.
- The Executive Branch must end the Remain in Mexico program/Migrant Protection Protocols and restore access to asylum.