June 27, 2020

Families Belong Together: “ICE may use this court order to attempt to tear children away from their parents again”

Following Judge Gee’s order on migrant children in detention centers yesterday, lawyers and advocacy groups representing detained families are sounding the alarm that ICE may use the order as grounds to begin separating families again. 

Families Belong Together co-director Paola Luisi released the following statement in response:

“Even though six children and dozens of adults have already died in U.S. immigration custody, ICE continues to hold children and families in jails with confirmed COVID-19 cases. By holding these families in unsanitary jails–which Dolly Gee, a federal judge, described as “on fire”–ICE is cruelly playing with their lives. This is sadistic, and wrong.

“While Judge Gee has now ordered the release of children from these jails by July 17, she only has jurisdiction over the children in these jails–not their parents or caretakers. Without all of us speaking out to demand the release of these children and their families, ICE may use this court order to attempt to tear children away from their parents again, as they did only a few weeks ago. 

“Crisis demands that we lean into our humanity and dignity as a nation, not abject cruelty. We demand that not one child is taken from their parents, that all the families be released together immediately, and that these family jails are permanently shut down.”  

Judge Gee’s order gives ICE the power to decide to release families together— or to force parents to make the impossible choice between keeping their families together in jails plagued by COVID-19 or having their children torn away from them, and released to sponsors. Right now, ICE already has that power and they have done everything possible to refuse to release families from jails safely and together.

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The Families Belong Together coalition includes nearly 250 different groups comprising tens of thousands of Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight the Trump Administration’s cruel family separation and anti-immigrant agenda. Led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, MoveOn, the ACLU, FWD.us and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Families Belong Together coalition organized the National Day of Action that saw hundreds of thousands of people protest the family separation policy and other inhumane immigration policies at more than 780 events in all 50 states. The coalition is at the forefront of the fight to permanently end family separation and incarceration, immediately reunite all families who remain torn apart, reverse the Trump administration’s zero-humanity policy that created this crisis, and hold accountable anyone who has profited politically or financially from the suffering of these families.