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Women’s Refugee Commission Joins Nearly 200 Organizations In Letter to Secretary Kelly Opposing to Plan to Separate Migrant Families at the Border

Washington, DC — Today, nearly 200 national, state and local organizations sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly expressing opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed plan to separate migrant families at the border. Secretary Kelly has now twice remarked that he is considering such a move in order to deter families from seeking protection at our borders. The letter calls on Secretary Kelly to “reverse course on any policy proposal that would seek to tear apart families or otherwise inflict trauma and harm.” It also notes that separating families undermines their ability to seek asylum, a right protected by both U.S. and international law.

WRC, together with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), recently issued a report documenting the trauma, harm, and impact on access to asylum created by family separation. Although the report documented examples of family separation that occurred under the last administration, Secretary Kelly is proposing to formalize this harmful practice into a full-blown agency-wide policy.

Today’s letter deems this action reprehensible, and emphasizes the fundamental right to family unity and the right to seek safety without fearing punishment through detention or separation from one’s children, parents, or other family members.

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

“The proposal to formalize a policy in which U.S. immigration officials separate children from parents to deter their migration is cruel and traumatizing to everyone involved. In our detention center visits, WRC has already encountered individuals who were separated from their small children, desperate to understand what happened to them and how to contact them. No parent seeking protection for their family should ever be in this position, and no child should have to face such harsh realities at a young age. The United States should immediately reverse course on harmful deterrence attempts such as detention or separation, especially when so many of these families are parents with children fleeing harm in their home countries and seeking safety at our borders.”


See the full letter to Secretary John Kelly here: http://wrc.ms/FamilySeparationLetter

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