Separating Children from Their Families at the U.S.-Mexico Border is Unacceptable

Statement from Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the Children

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (June 5, 2018) – In response to reports of children being separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children issued the following statement today:

Save the Children is deeply concerned about the treatment and well-being of children from Mexico and Central American nations who are in the custody of the United States government after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Many of the families and unaccompanied children arriving at the border are fleeing from a complex mix of social and economic factors, in particular violence in their home communities and seeking asylum in America. The United States has always been a beacon of hope, welcoming the world’s people for nearly 250 years. Our country should remain a safe haven for such children and families. For families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum, we have a moral and legal obligation to ensure children are protected and their rights for due process are upheld. 

It is important and obligatory under current national and international law to uphold the legal rights of children, especially those with a possible claim to refugee status. To this end, we urge the U.S. government to:

  • Provide migrant children with adequate screenings and a fair judicial process to ensure they are not being returned to life-threatening situations.
  • Uphold provisions in existing laws that provide due process for unaccompanied children and children separated from their parents or guardians, so that those with the right to stay are not short-changed and lost in the shuffle.
  • Ensure children and their families are made aware of their legal protections and options in their native language. 

We strongly urge the United States government to prevent the separation of young children from their parents whenever possible and to limit the duration of any such separation when it occurs. Separating a child from his or her family unnecessarily is inhumane, traumatic and simply put, unacceptable. Separation may cause severe negative social and emotional consequences for the children and their families in the days, months and years ahead. 

Based on our nearly 100 years of working with children worldwide, we call on the U.S. government to:

  1. Guarantee children’s basic safety and well-being are upheld in all aspects of care while in the custody of the government
  2. Provide migrant children with adequate screenings and a fair judicial process to ensure that they are not being returned to life-threatening situations
  3. Ensure that border patrol and immigration staff begin documentation and registration immediately in order to facilitate reunification activities in a timely and efficient manner

We appreciate Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s commitment to increasing transparency in the ways children are being treated at the border. Now it is incumbent on the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State and the Department of Education, along with other federal agencies, to make good on this imperative commitment.

Save the Children will continue to closely monitor this situation and advocate on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children. 

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Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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