Congress will not resolve the crisis at our border with bills like the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act (H.R. 6190, S. 3093). Instead of resolving the issue of family separation, it exchanges that practice with a different, but also heartbreaking one: family incarceration.
Under the Trump Administration's new "zero tolerance" policy, any immigrant adult who crosses the border illegally is charged with a crime. (If an immigrant is seeking asylum, they have the right to cross the border without a visa, and then go through a process that allows them to prove their plight rather than facing criminal charges.) This new law proposes that immigrant parents who have their children with them be placed into a "family detention," rather than a jail for adults only, so that their child is not separated from them.
Current child welfare law does not allow children to be kept in detention for more than 20 days. This proposal would change that law, allowing children to be jailed indefinitely.
Both separation and detention cause trauma for children. And there are much better solutions.
Previously, the U.S. has allowed for prosecutorial discretion, which let judges decide when asylum seekers, families, and vulnerable people could wait for their immigration hearings somewhere other than jail. Community-based alternatives to detention reunited immigrants with family members in the U.S., connected vulnerable people with faith-based hospitality in communities, and invested in family case management which helped people navigate the legal asylum system so their cases could be judged fairly. But since the “zero tolerance” policy was implemented, immigrant adults are being jailed instead.
We need humane immigration policy that keeps families together, protects access to asylum, and promotes alternatives to detention for all those seeking asylum.
Ask Congress to reject proposals to expand family detention and speak out against “zero tolerance” policy!