Family Separation at the Border and What You Can Do

Last week there was an outburst of attention to the Mexico Borders after images were spread of the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their families in six weeks. This horrific human rights violation orchestrated  by the United States Government and the ICE has brought a lot of questions to the surface. Let’s break it down.

Is there a law that requires family separation?

No, although Donald Trump claimed, on June 15, “I hate the children being taken away,” and added, “The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law,” this is a completely FALSE statement.  As early as December 2017 the administration was considering a plan to separate border-crossing parents from their children. In March, then Secretary John Kelly confirmed this, saying it would help steer Immigrants away from coming to the United States.

How are the conditions for the children?

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a press briefing, “We give them medical care. There’s videos; There’s TVs,”and in doing so she denied that the separation of children from their parents amounts to child abuse. This is yet another false claim made by the Trump Administration. The investigative nonprofit ProPublica released the linked audio of central american children crying at the border.

Do the courts require family separation?

No, both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Chuck Grassley have blamed family separation on the courts, specifically known as the Flores settlement, which created protections for children to prevent their detention in unlicensed facilities, like the ones we are seeing today.

Getting rid of the protections in the Flores settlement would only further the administration’s goal of being able to indefinitely imprison families. But ending family separation doesn’t require family prisons, the Trump Administration knows this well.

The administration ended the Family Case Management Program, in June 2017, which allowed families to be placed into a program, together. The families could then understand how to apply for asylum and attend immigration court proceedings.

The court hearings had a 99.6 percent appearance rate for those enrolled in the program.

This has been a heartbreaking and horrific line of events, family separation, camps which ring familiar to Japanese work camps during world war ll, and the Trump Administration making false claims all over the place. BUT we are a democracy! So take a deep breath and listen. There are things that need to be done and actions that need to be taken.

Call Your Representatives

This is critical. Our opinions need  to be voiced especially when it comes to this issue. The Keep Families Together Act is a popular solution to this crisis. Call your representatives in the House and the Senate and tell them you support this act.


There are protests being held nationwide on this issue that may become the principal road to change in the United States. Protests against the current administration's Muslim Ban and in other human rights issues in the past have led directly to change. There are many events going on here in Milwaukee and across the state. Check out these.

Donate to Organizations Fighting on the Ground

The ACLU is fighting for the policy mentioned above across the nation.  Al Otro Lado is a binational organization that works to offer legal services to deportees and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, including deportee parents whose children remain in the U.S.

CARA provides legal services at family detention centers and is in need of donations.The Florence Project is an Arizona organization giving free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody. See more here.

Represent Immigrants In Court

Kids In Need of Defense is always in need of volunteer lawyers, if you don't specialize in immigration already they will give you the help and resources you need in order to help. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has compiled a list of organizations of the like that are in need of help.


Although this situation is hard to swallow and feels like peanut butter in your throat, it too will pass. And it seems as though everyone is working hard to make the end come as soon as possible. Do what you can and known that many are doing the same.

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