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June 20, 2018

Family Detention Is Not a Solution For Family Separation

Today, it was announced that President Trump intends to sign an executive order that will detain families together indefinitely rather than separate them at the border. 

Make no mistake: this administration and Republicans in Congress are separating children from the only family they’ve ever known to use as a bargaining chip in an effort to push forward failed policies—like this proposed executive order—that would detain them indefinitely. The administration will still be jailing babies. We will still have children in cages. 

By trying to indefinitely detain traumatized children and their parents seeking protection in the United States, the Trump Administration is doubling down on their cruelty. There is no scenario in which children should be held in prison like criminals. 

There already exists a solution to family separation. The Trump Administration ended an effective case management program that provides alternatives to detention and ensures that asylum seekers show up in court. The executive order being proposed is not a solution to family separation, it is what the administration wanted all along.

It is also wholly unneccessary. Our reporting shows that immigrants appear for their immigration court hearings at high rates, particularly when they have legal representation or case management support, and accurate information related to the court process. Families and children with legal counsel are in compliance nearly 100% of the time. Our data shows that in 2015, for example, 86% of individuals released from ICE detention pursuant to a bond hearing complied with their appearance obligations.

We've also compiled reports about the dangers involved in family detention, and the life-long trauma that it inflicts on children.

Keeping people in detention is not the answer. Keeping families together in cages is not the answer. Family detention is traumatizing for children and young adults, as well as their parents. It doesn't solve the problem. Indeed, it just exercerbates existing ones.