FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2022
Washington, D.C. — Today, thousands of organizations and individuals are submitting recommendations to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling for major changes in federal immigration enforcement and greater protections for children in immigrant families. In response to a request for comments on the work of the Federal Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, several of the nation’s leading children’s advocacy organizations are calling in a joint letter for an end to ongoing enforcement actions at the border and the interior that continue to harm children and families. While the request for information was focused on the zero-tolerance policy that separated families at the border in 2018, the letter urges the agency to consider the best interests of children and protect family unity in all decisions regarding admissibility, enforcement, detention, and deportation of children and their families.
As the organizations reflected in their letter, “Our immigration laws often fail to consider the best interests of children, and the real or perceived threat of separation from a parent due to immigration enforcement creates instability and constant stress for children in mixed-status families, with serious consequences for their long-term development.”
Over five million children, the vast majority of whom are U.S. citizens, have at least one parent who is undocumented, and more than half a million children have a parent who is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status recipient. A child’s stable connection to a parent or caregiver is one of the most critical factors affecting their short- and long-term development, especially in the early years, yet many of our current immigration enforcement policies continue to threaten that stability.
The groups are calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to follow through on its promise to end policies that have separated families and created long-term harm to children.
As the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s inauguration passes, the administration has an opportunity to actionably demonstrate its commitment to immigrant families and child wellbeing by reversing hurtful policies—including those implemented under the Trump Administration—and working to remedy the immeasurable harm inflicted on immigrant families. The groups detail several specific recommendations for DHS to consider, including:
- Providing restitution to families separated at the border
- Halting the Title 42 policy
- Putting an end to the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP
- Strengthening the Detained Parents Directive
- Consistently enforcing the Protected Areas Policy
- Clarifying and improving deportation prioritization protocols
- Utilizing community-based alternatives to detention
- Reunifying parents and family members who have previously been deported
The Center for Law and Social Policy, First Focus on Children, Children’s Defense Fund, The Children’s Partnership, and Save the Children, which comprise members of the Children Thrive Action Network (CTAN), submitted the comment letter. CTAN is a group of national, state, and local organizations working to defend and support children in mixed-status immigrant families. Learn more about the mission of the network here.