Protecting the Value of Human Potential: Immigration Policy Continues to Undermine Well-BeingJune 21, 2018
Executive Order Issued
Yesterday, the Administration issued an executive order stating a new policy to “maintain family unity” by directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) not to turn adults over to the Department of Justice (DOJ) when they face criminal charges. As of now, the order keeps the “zero tolerance” policy in place, which requires the prosecution of all adults, including parents who come to the U.S. outside of a port of entry. The order also instructs DOJ to prioritize (criminal) cases involving families. But, families can still be detained indefinitely while their immigration proceeding plays out through DHS. In the short term, families will be housed at Department of Defense facilities with limited space which could temporarily limit the number of criminal prosecutions. Even if families are moved to the “front of the queue,” asylum proceedings take time, there is little guidance for oversight of detention conditions, and no mechanism for addressing the status of those families who have already been separated.
NHSA opposes any indefinite detention of children, even if families are kept together. Families with legitimate legal claims should be released while their immigration proceedings are pending or be enrolled in a detention alternative that provides a continuum of care that meets every family’s needs.
Meanwhile, the likelihood of passing either of the two remaining House immigration bills is growing dimmer. The Goodlatte bill was defeated and the vote on the Ryan bill has been postponed. Regardless, neither bill would provide sufficient protection for Dreamers nor an acceptable means to citizenship. Further, the last minute amendments to address family separation, which mirror the language in the Executive Order, would still undermine well-being by permitting the indefinite detention of families while their immigration proceedings play out.
NHSA supports a practical approach to immigration policy that creates opportunities for undocumented immigrants of all ages to gain legal status and contribute to American prosperity. When people have the opportunity to reach their full potential, they enrich America’s culture and economy. We support a permanent solution for Dreamers that does not harm immigrant families, like the Dream Act, and oppose the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 6136). We urge you to call your Representative and tell them to oppose any measure that would undermine the well-being of immigrant families and our communities as a whole.