May 30, 2018

Statement of Hilarie Bass, ABA president Re: Separating immigrant children from parents at the border

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2018 — The American Bar Association strongly opposes the government’s policy of forcibly separating minor children from their parents when families cross the southern border into the United States. This unnecessarily cruel action violates basic standards of human decency.

In just two weeks this month, from May 6 to 19, 638 adults were arrested crossing the border with 658 children, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The adults were sent to criminal detention for prosecution while their children were placed in separate juvenile shelters to undergo removal proceedings on their own.

The separation of families causes grave harm to children and their parents. This policy has overwhelmed the criminal justice system and causes inefficiencies in the immigration court system when children, as young as toddlers, appear in court on their own, with no right to appointed counsel.

The ABA calls on immigration authorities to keep families together and place them in the least restrictive setting possible. Separating children from their parents not only violates due process, it is antithetical to the very human values on which this country was founded and sets a terrible example for the rest of the world. It should be stopped immediately.

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