USHRN Statement on the Removal of Immigrant Children from Parents at the US Border
The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) strongly condemns the United States (US) practice of separating immigrating children and parents at the US border. USHRN, its members and allies, denounce and call for an immediate end to this cruel and immoral policy. The recently reported escalation in forcible “seizure and detention” of children along with deliberate separation of families as part of border enforcement targeting immigrants of color, is inhumane and a human rights violation under international and constitutional norms. In the face of such egregious mistreatment of the most vulnerable of those seeking refuge in the US -- minor children – we cannot remain silent. These practices highlight issues raised in the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) following their US visit of October 2016. In its 2017 report to the Human Rights Council, the UNWGAD stated that “the mandatory detention of immigrants, especially asylum seekers, is contrary to international human rights and refugee rights standards” and expressed alarm at the “punitive conditions” observed in the US. The Working Group especially noted the “extreme vulnerability of children” and called on the US government to comply with international norms and find alternatives to mandatory detention of immigrants, respect the requirement not to deprive children of liberty, and to seek the best interests of the child including keeping families together.
We further share a sense of urgency around the failure of the US government to protect and monitor the whereabouts and safety of immigrant children who have already been forcibly removed from loved ones upon arrival in the US. We join the outcry calling for their immediate safe return to their families. The lack of accountability for these human rights violations is reminiscent of this nations’ similar strategy of historic separations of children from parents of enslaved African descendants, indigenous peoples, and other racially targeted people here in the US. We reiterate this call for the US to uphold its international human rights obligations and to implement the 2017 recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: abolishing mandatory detention for immigrant children and parents and prioritizing family unity as an urgent part of this process.