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  • Trump Administration Fails to Meet Reunification Deadline; Women’s Refugee Commission Says Trump Immigration Policy Disaster for Asylum-Seeking Families

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    Washington, D.C. — Despite a court order issued in June mandating that the Trump administration reunite children under five with their parents, after being separated by the U.S. government at the border, the administration is expected to fail to meet today’s deadline. According to U.S. government sources, only half of the children under five are expected to be reunited.

    U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw issued the order in response to the Trump administration’s policies that led to more than 3,000 children being separated from their parents at the border.

    The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) pointed to the dysfunctional nature of the Trump administration’s immigration policy as a contributing factor to the missed deadline.

    “While we are grateful that the outcry against separation from across the country means that some families will be reunited, the fact is that they represent roughly one percent of separated families. The Trump administration’s policy was crafted to be a deterrent for asylum seekers,” said Michelle Brané, director of WRC’s Migrant Rights and Justice program. “The nightmare that migrant families now face is a direct result of a dysfunctional immigration policy designed by the Trump administration to create chaos and terrorize those seeking safety at our borders.”

    In addition to separating families at the border, the Trump administration is also pursuing a policy of detaining families – including children. The administration has requested a waiver of child protection standards in the Flores Settlement, which provides that minors cannot be held in unlicensed secure facilities for extended periods of time. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee denied the administration’s request to lift the terms of Flores.

    “The Trump administration is attempting to trade the nightmare of family separation for that of family detention,” said Brané. “The fact is that this administration is hell-bent on criminalizing the legal and legalizing the criminal.”

    Also yesterday, WRC and other advocacy organizations met with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss current border policies.

    “Secretary Nielsen did not discuss issues related to the pending litigation; however, she reiterated the administration’s focus on implementing the zero-tolerance policy and their focus on deterring families and children from seeking asylum in the United States. The Secretary said she was interested in ways in which they could protect and prevent families and children from making the dangerous journey through Mexico,” continued Brané. 

    The Women’s Refugee Commission and others offered suggestions for Nielsen, including not reversing protective measures in TVPRA and Flores; reinstituting the Family Case Management Program (FCMP) and other programs as alternatives to family separation and family detention; ending the zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting asylum seekers; reinstituting the Central American Minors Program, which allowed certain children to apply for status in the U.S. from Central America and traveling by plane rather than making the dangerous journey to the border alone; and supporting accountability, rule of law, and access to protection in the region of Central America.