American Immigration Council demands Trump family separation policies

ICE agents immigrationThe Trump administration’s plans around family separation and reunification of separated family members have been hidden from the public and Freedom of Information Act requests for information about their policies and procedures have gone unanswered. In response, the American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a coalition of immigration groups demanding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release policies, guidance, and data regarding the practice of family separation.

The lawsuit, filed by the Council and international law firm WilmerHale in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to compel the agencies to produce documents in response to FOIA requests submitted in April. The requests, filed by the Council, in collaboration with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Women’s Refugee Commission, and WilmerHale asked for information including but not limited to:

1. Records related to any past, current, or planned policy, guidance, or recommendations regarding the separation of families who arrive at the border, including ports of entry.

2. Systems for tracking children and adult family members who are separated.

3. Policies and protocols related to efforts to reunite separated family members.

4. Training of ICE and CBP officers regarding screening of adult family members for referral for criminal prosecution for immigration violations.

5. Training regarding treatment of family members and minor children in ICE or CBP custody who have been separated.

6. Practices and protocols for coordinating communication (telephonic, video, or in-person) between a detained adult family member and a related minor child, following separation.

7. Coordination among CBP, ICE, DHS, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice regarding the processing and handling of the separation of adult family members from related minor children.

8. Practices or protocols for verifying a family relationship prior to or after separation.

9. Data regarding the number of minor children separated from adult family members; the number of referrals of adult family members for criminal prosecution where families were separated; the number of referrals for credible fear interviews after separation; and the number of children and parents who departed the United States after separation.

10. Complaints received by the agencies regarding the separation of families.

“The government has taken thousands of immigrant children—including infants—from their parents yet there is no known system for how this vulnerable population is being managed and when the parents can expect to be reunited with their children—if ever,” said Emily Creighton, the Council’s deputy legal director. “This lawsuit intends to uncover documents supporting the policies that the government would rather remain hidden from view. Among them are justifications for family separation, communication among agencies detailing coordinated efforts to separate families, and comprehensive data showing the systemic implementation of family separation and removal.”

American Immigration Council’s Statement on Trump’s Executive Order on Family Separation

Mexico mapPresident Donald Trump signed an executive order today to try to stem criticism of his family separation policy. He has offered an unacceptable alternative: imprisoning mothers and fathers with their children. The president is also asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request that a court modify and effectively dismantle the Flores settlement. That settlement protects children held by the government and sets forth standards of care.

The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s executive order does nothing to change the fact that the Trump administration is attacking families and criminalizing asylum seekers. The zero-tolerance policy is cruel and unnecessary. We should not have to choose between separating parents from their children and expanding the shameful practice of imprisoning families. Our experience defending families in detention, first in Artesia, New Mexico and now in Dilley, Texas, has taught us that family detention is never humane.”

The criminalization of immigration in the United States

Studies over the past century have examined the issue of crimes being committed by immigrants, and they have confirmed two truths: immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natural-born Americans; and high rates of immigration are associated with lower crime rates. Walter Ewing, Ph.D., Daniel E. Martínez, Ph.D. and Rubén G. Rumbaut, Ph.D. have researched the issue, and have a report on their studies at the American Immigration Council’s website. A PDF of the report is available for download here.

 
Attorney information and content provided on this website is provided for the benefit of members of The National Advocates and as a public service by Legal Associations Management, Inc. The website and all data are the property of Legal Associations Management, Inc. Data, including without limitation attorney information and content, on the site may not be mined, sold, or used commercially for any purpose without the explicit written consent of Legal Associations Management, Inc. This site may not be accessed by any automated program for extracting data for any use. By accessing and using the site you agree that you will not develop, support or use software, devices, scripts, robots, or any other means or processes (including crawlers, browser plug-ins and add-ons, or any other technology) to scrape data or otherwise copy profiles and other data. Unauthorized use or attempted unauthorized use of this system may subject you to both civil and criminal penalties.