July 24, 2023

Contact: Archana Pyati at [email protected]

Members of the Children Thrive Action Network (CTAN) have expressed alarm over reports of asylum seekers, including nursing mothers, pregnant women, and young children, being subjected to harm at the Texas border under Governor Abbott’s border security initiative. The disturbing reports include asylum seekers being pushed into the Rio Grande, denied water, or exposed to serious injury from razor wires. CTAN is calling for an investigation of these cruel practices and policies and for federal and state policymakers to commit to ensuring asylum seekers are treated with dignity and respect. 

CTAN is a national network of children’s advocacy organizations and service providers committed to protecting and defending children in immigrant families. In addition to developing policy principles to ensure that immigration policies protect children’s health, safety, and well-being, CTAN has been urging the Biden Administration to advance the “best interest of the child” in its border policies and to reject policies that put children in harm’s way and undermine the right to seek asylum.  

“All children deserve safety, support, and compassion,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy. “Texas state officials’ actions are deplorable and inexcusable. Their intentional policies of cruelty and inhumanity toward children and families should be a wake-up call for those engaging in rhetoric and supporting policies that dehumanize asylees. No one, especially our nation’s leaders, should tolerate it. Federal and state officials must take action to investigate these egregious human rights violations, ensure accountability, and immediately end the use of dangerous policies that put lives at risk.”

“In coordination with Border Patrol, Operation Lone Star has allowed the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas National Guard to arrest, detain and terrorize children, adults, and families seeking safety in the U.S. without any accountability,” said Mary Miller Flowers, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “We demand that the Department of Justice investigate Operation Lone Star, and that the Federal Government stop providing any type of resources to aid Texas in these efforts. The United States has a legal and moral obligation to honor people’s right to seek asylum. It is past time for us to undertake a humanitarian approach to border management, not one based on deterrence and detention.”

“These reports represent the very worst of the U.S. immigration system, which dehumanizes the vulnerable and desperate people caught within it, who seek safety within our borders,” said Anna Gallagher, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) Executive Director. 

“These actions are simply inhuman, and they are fueled by a narrative that demonizes people in search of protection,” said Esther Reyes, Director of Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas. “Despite repeated warnings from advocates about the harms perpetuated by Governor Abbott’s operations at the Texas-Mexico border, our leaders continue to waste resources on failed strategies that endanger the lives of children and families. We demand that federal and state officials promptly initiate an investigation into the alleged practices under the Texas Department of Public Safety; remove all concertina wire, physical barriers, buoys and military vehicles from the border and the Rio Grande; and put an immediate end to Operation Lone Star and all policies that put lives in danger.”

“America’s moms want every asylum-seeker to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect,” said Donna Norton, Executive Vice President, MomsRising. “Those who are fleeing violence and poverty in search of a better life must not be met with this kind of unspeakable cruelty. The atrocities caused by Gov. Abbott’s policies must end.”

To learn more about CTAN, please visit www.childrenthriveaction.org.