Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Tucson activists denounce immigrant family separations
TUCSON – Free the Children Coalition, a new group targeting Trump administration policies on immigration, on Tuesday called its latest crackdown that separates families at the border “an attack” on children that exposes them to illness and trauma.
“I thought we reached our lowest. I really did,” Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Coalitión de Derechos Humanos, a group promoting migrant rights, said at a news conference. “Now, this is our lowest. Attacking our children. How low can we go?”
A pediatrician, a pastor, legal experts and local activist groups like the the Poor People’s Campaign, an organization committed to fighting poverty and inequality, and Coalicion de Derechos Humanos joined the newly formed pro-immigration coalition that said national policy now criminalizes migrants.
“We know from many studies about the irreparable harm caused by breaking up families,” Dr. Eve Shapiro said. “Children are susceptible to learning difficulties, depression and chronic conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and even heart disease.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, with about 66,000 members, says in a March 1 letter to the Department of Homeland Security that separating immigrant children from their families is “inhumane and counterproductive” as a deterrent to immigration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has placed a string of tough, controversial measures on immigration, with his latest move on Monday saying the U.S. would limit asylum claims to victims of gang violence and domestic abuse .
“Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems, even all serious problems, that people face every day all over the world,” Sessions said. “We have not acted hastily but carefully. In my judgment, this will be a correct interpretation of the law.”
The Trump administration also has pledged a “100 percent prosecution” policy of detained illegal immigrants, in what Sessions said was an effort to end the “lawlessness” in the current immigration system.
“It is a setback to our standing as a country in the field of international law” and the women’s movements, said Alba Jaramillo, director of the YWCA Latina Leadership Institute.
The children’s coalition also denounced reports that children are missing or unaccounted for , which surfaced in news reports but reaches as far back as the Obama administration.
Some speakers at the news conference were emotional, tearing up or their voices shaking as they shared their stories.
“It is quite literally, perhaps, the closest thing that our civil legal system can get to the death penalty – permanently separating a parent from his or her child,” said Billy Peard, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union Arizona.
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