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Women's Refugee Commission Responds to ICE Raids Apprehending Undocumented Sponsors of Unaccompanied Children

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) confirmed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is conducting raids targeting parents and other sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children. WRC stands firmly against these cruel and morally outrageous actions which are also bad policy. The affected sponsors–parents, family members, guardians–care and provide for children while they wait for their asylum claims to be heard, helping them overcome trauma and covering the costs associated with their care. Stripping these children of their support will only heighten their vulnerability to predators and pave a path for human traffickers seeking to exploit unaccompanied children.

In response to increased immigration enforcement and the continued implementation of President Trump's executive orders on immigration and border policy, WRC has updated resources for parents facing rapid deportation, and attorneys and advocates working alongside them.

See “Make A Plan: Migrant Parents' Guide to Preventing Family Separation” in English here and Spanish here.

See “What About My Children? Preserving Family Unity and Protecting Parental Rights When Facing Deportation” in English here and Spanish here.

See more resources for parents facing rapid deportation here.

See “Detained or Deported: What About My Children” Toolkit here.

WRC urges the Trump Administration to take note of the following, and stop these heinous raids immediately:

  • Separating families is morally reprehensible: Apprehending the sponsors of unaccompanied children–the majority of whom are their parents or direct relatives–is a moral outrage and is profoundly harmful to these children. Make no mistake: this is family separation at its worst.
  • Raids mean higher costs for the government, and taxpayers, to bear: Sponsors are the children's caregivers while the children go through immigration proceedings, and they take on all costs for care of the child. If sponsors are detained, or discouraged from taking children into their care, those costs fall to the federal or state governments who will have to maintain custody of those children in either foster care facilities, or immigration facilities. In some cases, these sponsors also have US citizen children, who are also at risk of being left without a parent and being placed into the child welfare system.
  • The chilling effect in the community harms children and drives them into the hands of predators and traffickers: If parents are unable to send for children who are being persecuted in their home countries, children will either flee on their own and be vulnerable to criminals or traffickers, or will be left at the mercy of those persecuting them. Without their sponsor, children lose their most appropriate caretakers or may go into hiding, which makes them extremely vulnerable to predators, including human traffickers, and others who want to exploit and/or harm vulnerable children.

According to Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission:

“Do not be fooled by claims that these raids are intended to protect children from smugglers – these actions are a blatant attempt to punish parents who are trying to save their children's lives. The calculated use of children as bait to detain their parents is reprehensible. It endangers children, is un-American, and must not be accepted. The administration is targeting parents who have made the difficult choice of sending for their children in order to save them from horrific violence. The targeting of these parents puts children's lives at risk. It will lead to children being left at the mercy of their persecutors and more vulnerable to trafficking. Furthermore, many of these parents have U.S. citizen children who will be left without a caretaker if their parents are deported. WRC urges the Trump Administration to halt these acts and focus on the creation of sensible and sound immigration policy.”