Photo Credit: Leslie Ambriz
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught illegally crossing the border. Parents and children will now be separated and charged with smuggling.
“If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” said Session in the press conference. The children will be taken away and parents will be deported and charged as criminals. This new policy is the latest attempt at using scare tactics to keep migrants from seeking refuge in the United States.
In an interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly supported the policy. He said it’s not cruel and more of a deterrent for “illegal crossing.”
“The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long,” said Kelly.
Children would be separated from their parents and siblings would be separated from each other. They would be added to a flawed system that has been consistently accused of failing the very children it vows to protect.
Undocumented parents can still fight back against the separation by preparing for the worst. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) advises parents to prepare legal documents to aid a backup caregiver in the case of deportation.
A non-parent can serve as a guardian with the Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit or the GC-211 Form. Also, they can gather important documents, emergency contact numbers, and update schools and daycare providers. The ILRC says preparation like this could prevent children from ending up in the child welfare system.
Just last year nearly 1,500 undocumented children went missing and are still not accounted for. The Associated Press reports that the children were sent to live with sponsors, but when the Health and Human Services Department followed up with them, many of the children had disappeared.
What can you do to help immigrant families?
You can get involved with a local pro-immigrant organization, volunteer to foster migrant children and care for them, and continue to fight for the rights of all. They’re #heretostay.