SILVER SPRING, Maryland—The executive order signed June 20 and touted as ending the administration’s policy of family separation merely pays lip service to the outcry from Americans to stop the cruel and unnecessary practice of removing children from their parents at the border.
“We will be watching to see whether the administration follows the law concerning how long it may keep families in detention,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. Under a court order and settlement agreement in the the Flores v. Sessions cases, which governs care for juveniles in immigration detention, minors being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement must be released after 20 days. An executive order cannot supersede a court order.
The executive order said that under its policy of rigorously enforcing immigration laws, “It is also the policy of this administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”
“That sounds like the administration is ordering federal agencies to follow the law about family detention,” Atkinson said.
The order notably did not address the problem of thousands of children who have already been separated from their parents, many of whom have no idea where their sons and daughters are. Some parents have even been deported while their children remain in federal custody.
“The administration deserves no credit for heeding the enormous public outcry about this barbaric practice,” said Atkinson. “This was a crisis of their own creation, a thinly veiled and spectacularly failed political stunt that deserved every ounce of criticism it received from the public, politicians, religious leaders and corporations.
“However, this order will do nothing to stop other administration policies that have been breaking up families for a year and a half,” Atkinson said. “Ending DACA; cutting of Temporary Protected Status for many countries; the Muslim travel ban; reducing eligibility for asylum; slashing the number of refugees admitted; conducting workplace raids; and making every undocumented immigrant ‘a priority’ for deportation will continue to break apart families and keep them apart.”
June 21, 2018
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