Trump EO on Family Separation is Absurd Posturing

June 20th, 2018

+FAQs on Migrant Children in New York Facilities

NEW YORK, NY - Today, President Trump signed an executive order to address his own “zero-tolerance” policy of separating children from parents along the southern border, despite placing blame on Congress and unspecified court orders. The executive order mandates that children now be imprisoned with their parents in ICE facilities indefinitely unless their cases are resolved.

Recently, the Trump administration has been separating families at the southern border who are fleeing violence and seeking protection in the United States, placing thousands of children in separate detention camps. The images and videos of children being held in jail-like conditions, stripped from their parents, has rightfully stoked outrage across the country and prompted the United Nations to issue a rebuke of the United States.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

“The Trump Administration ripped thousands of crying children from their parents' arms, kept them in cages, and shipped them thousands of miles across the country. We don’t need an absurd EO that keeps kids locked up and continues to criminalize asylum-seekers, we need the President to simply end his "zero tolerance" policy and show the moral decency not to imprison children or lock up families in ICE prisons.”

FAQs on Family Separation and Migrant Children in New York Facilities: What We Know Right Now

Are there children in New York who were separated from their parents at the southern border?

Yes.

What kind of facilities are they being held in?

These are group homes for children, they are not detention facilities or prisons. These shelters are not the villains in this story.

Who are these facilities contracted to, and how were they chosen?

These facilities are contracted to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The federal government often assigns contracts to facilities through a bidding process.

Are services being provided? If so, which services and how?

Social workers are on staff at most of these facilities.

For legal services, Catholic Charities’ attorneys have contracts with ORR to go into these facilities, do legal orientation programs, and provide some legal representation in court. In April, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted to cut funding for these services, however Congressional pressure has kept it intact until it is revisited at the end of the fiscal year.

Who is providing legal support for these facilities?

For New York City and Hudson Valley, Catholic Charities is providing legal support.

Because these are not federal facilities, Catholic Charities is partnering with local community organizations to ensure other support services are made accessible.

What are the legal issues here?

These children came to the US with their parents seeking asylum, so there are questions as to whether their right to seek protection is being violated. There are clear concerns about whether established norms for ensuring children’s welfare are being violated, and would implicate the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement that determined the US government cannot detain unaccompanied immigrant children, and instead custody must be transferred to ORR. It also raises questions about possible new violations.

The ACLU has filed two lawsuits in recent months challenging the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from parents seeking asylum at the border. This week Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to file a complaint as well.

Reports indicate that childrens’ immigration cases are being separated from their parents’ cases, making it difficult for the government to ensure that children are reunited with their parents at the conclusion of their criminal and/or immigration cases. There have also been substantiated reports of parents being deported while their children remain in government custody.

What can individuals do in response to the separation of families?

Groups and individuals can refer to this page for guidance on how to engage and take concrete action. The page is being updated in real time as the situation continues to develop, so we advise people to check periodically for the most accurate information.


Need legal assistance?

Call the NYS Immigration Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 or view our directory of service providers here