Calling for an immediate halt of the policy of separating families
StoryBy a unanimous vote, the Metropolitan King County Council today called for an immediate end of the Trump administration policy that is separating immigrating families crossing into the United States.
“Separating children from their parents is a cruel and unnecessary act that does nothing to make our country safer,” said Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci, prime sponsor of the motion. “As a mother—and as a human being—it is heartbreaking to imagine the trauma and suffering this inflicts on both the children and the parents. We cannot stand silently and allow this to continue happening or allow King County resources to be used to needlessly tear families apart.”
Last month, the U. S. Attorney General announced the Trump administration would expand the practice of separating families entering into the U.S. undocumented, as well as those families seeking asylum. Reports from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project state there are up to 120 women currently in detention at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. Many of these women had their children taken from them after coming into the U.S. seeking asylum and federal agents have reportedly refused to give them information about where their children are.
“The Trump Administration’s outrageous policy of separating families arriving at our border must end now,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “As Dr. Colleen Kraft, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says, this is ‘government sanctioned child abuse.’”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, between April 19 and May 31, federal officials have separated at least 2,000 children from their parents after they crossed the US border without documentation. There have been media reports of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) placing these children into foster homes across the country with no information provided to their parents.
“As a mother, I would be shaken to the core if someone were to take my children away from me in a foreign land, especially without telling me where they were being taken,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “To be sure, the trauma that both the children and their parents are experiencing as a result of this forced separation will have long lasting effects on their health – both physically and emotionally – which is heartbreaking to even contemplate. While immigration reform could be positive, we must do everything in our power to put an end to this cruel practice and ensure that we as a nation never go down this path again.”
Experts have described the traumatic effects of separation on the children, including long-term health effects like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even heart disease. The American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all called for the Trump Administration to stop separating families at the border. The United Nations Human Right Office has described it as a violation of the rights of the children and their families and a violation of international law, urging an immediate halt to the practice.
Federal legislation has been introduced preventing the Department of Homeland Security from continuing the practice of separating families who have entered the country either undocumented or seeking asylum.
“We must do all we can to stop this inhumane policy now being implemented by our federal government,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Our immigration policies must reflect the historical principles of family reunification and uphold the rights of the child and the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
“The demonstrations I’ve seen at the SeaTac Detention Center, and the people who have spoken out in recent weeks, tell me this Administration’s separation policy goes against our values as a community,” said motion co-sponsor Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.
The motion adopted by the council is calling for an immediate halt of the policy of separating families and for the county’s congressional delegation to urge the Trump administration to release all immigrants and allow them to reunite with the families while their asylum claims are processed.