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Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Kelly’s Remarks that DHS Will Not Separate Families at Border

Washington, DC – Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing that DHS would not separate mothers seeking protection at the southern border from their children except in rare circumstances, such as if the child’s life was endangered. Both Senator Heitkamp and Senator Harris asked about the issue.


The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) is pleased to hear Secretary Kelly confirm that DHS is no longer considering such a cruel and un-American policy. WRC, together with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), recently released a report documenting the trauma and harm caused by family separation and the way that separation impedes access to asylum for parents and children, with little recourse to try to reunite once they’ve been separated.

In addition, nearly 200 groups recently sent a letter to Secretary Kelly expressing opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed plan to separate migrant families at the border. 

According to Katharina Obser, Senior Program Officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission:

“Secretary Kelly’s remarks today that DHS will not systematically separate mothers at the border from their children confirm that DHS will not implement what would have been a cruel punishment for those fleeing harm and trying to find safety at our borders. We have already documented that separating families causes immense harm and prevents access to legal protection in the United States. Given that families will continue to flee countries where their lives are in danger – such a policy would likely drive families only further into the hands of traffickers or smugglers. WRC intends to monitor closely whether the experiences of families apprehended by immigration officials at the border match what Secretary Kelly has said.”


For more information contact: Katharina Obser katharinao@wrcommission.orgTessa Wiseman, tessa@newpartners.com

Also see WRC’s 10 Things to Know About How Trump’s Executive Order Will Harm Women and Children Seeking Protection here