Indefinite family detention draws more anger

Pramila Jayapal fights to keep H4 work authorization

The solution to the reprehensible practice of separating children from parents was barely less humane, activists and lawmakers say


indica Washington bureau


Indian American lawmakers and human rights activists on Wednesday slammed President Donald Trump for a new executive order that calls for indefinite detention of families who illegally enter the country, even though it stops the practice of separating children from their parents.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, leading the effort, said Trump’s new executive order allows for indefinite detention of families. “That is absolutely unacceptable. Immigrant internment camps are cruel and inhumane,” she said.

“Moreover, lengthy or unnecessary detention of children has been ruled unlawful. The zero-tolerance policy itself must end. If the Trump administration wants to now detain families during a criminal court case, that is unprecedented and will likely be challenged in court. Family separation is wrong. So is throwing families in jail,” Jayapal said.

Trump’s executive order is a response to the widespread criticism, based on moral and human rights grounds, of separating more than 2,000 children from their parents.

“However, it is far from sufficient. The president could have ended family separation with a simple phone call, but his new order expands family detention and continues the criminal prosecution of asylum-seekers,” Jayapal said.

As the first member of Congress to speak directly to mothers inside a detention center, Jayapal said that it is stories and voices of detained immigrants and children across the country that broke the hearts of the American people and had Americans of all parties stand up to condemn family separation.

“President Trump knew he had to back off this cruelty – but instead of rescinding his cruel policy, he simply traded one cruelty for another. My colleagues and I will continue to do everything we can to use our platforms to shine a light on the most vulnerable, and counter this administration’s outright lies and shifting rationales to mislead and sow division,” Jayapal said.

Senator Kamala Harris of California said that the executive order doesn’t fix the crisis.

“Indefinitely detaining children with their families in camps is inhumane and will not make us safe,” she said. “This executive order in no way deals with reuniting the two thousand three hundred children who have been torn away from their parents and remain separated. “When will they see their parents again? They must be reunited immediately.”

Family incarceration is not the answer to ending family separation and moving children from one cage to another is an outrage, said Neera Tanden, who heads Center for American Progress, a top US think-tank close to the Democratic party.

“Instead of ending his ‘zero tolerance’ policy of prosecuting even those exercising their legal right to apply for asylum, President Trump is using this executive order to double down on his lie that Congress or the courts are ‘forcing’ his administration to separate families,” she said. “This is and has always been a policy choice of this administration. Rather than end it, Trump is taking advantage of the outrage over the inhumanity of his family separation policy to ramp up the mass incarceration of children and parents.”

Congressman Ro Khanna said that Trump’s executive order will still result in humans being put behind bars.

“I’m glad these children will no longer be torn from their parents’ arms, but this is “solution” doesn’t come close to fixing the problem. We demand more!” he said.

Khanna said Trump’s executive order is a very small nod towards decency by ending the barbaric practice of separating children from their parents.

“But it simply just replaces one problem with another by locking up families in detainment together,” he said.

“We should not just lock children in prison with their parents,” Khanna said. “That is not a solution. This is not who we are. Our nation’s leadership must treat everyone with civility and humanity, and we must fix our broken immigration system so that all people may live with freedom and dignity as our national creed demands. The Trump Administration should simply withdraw their April 6, and May 7 guidance. If they won’t, Congress needs to immediately pass the Keep Families Together. There is not a single second left to waste.”

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