Washington, DC—Today, Representative Darren Soto (D-FL), Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and a broad spectrum of civil rights leaders including Reverend Al Sharpton, President and Founder, National Action Network; Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS; Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director & CEO, Anti-Defamation League; Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Sindy Benavides, COO & Acting CEO, League of United Latin American Citizens; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP, held a press conference at the Capitol calling on the Trump administration and U.S. Attorney General Sessions to immediately cease the separation of children and their families at the U.S. border.
From October 2017 to May 2018, more than 2,700 children have been separated from their parents and the rate of those separations have risen alarmingly—in the past six weeks alone, at least 1,995 children have been taken from their parents and placed in shelter facilities that are already nearing capacity. Compounding the cruel separation, the government does not have a formal process to reunite families, leaving the very real possibility that children spend extended periods of time away from their families and in a temporary shelter facility, causing irreparable harm and trauma.
"The gathering of major civil rights leaders is to underscore our outrage at the abhorrible, immoral the administrative directive to separate children from their parents. This must be resisted at all levels. If Congress does not act today, we will begin as early as Thursday waves of visits to the border in efforts to have clergy and humanitarian visits to these children and to show the world that America has not lost its conscious or soul. The mutual aspect of this is that we more than are convinced that President Trump would not do this at the Canadian border to White children. This is selective administrative insensitivity,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, President & Founder, National Action Network.
“This policy is an abomination, but it is not an aberration. This policy is really part of an ongoing
assault on Latino families which started day one of the Trump campaign. Trump has been deliberately and purposefully demonizing our community for three years. He calls us “criminals” and “rapists” and is trying to equate the 58 million Hispanics in this country and the 3.5 million citizens who live in Puerto Rico with violent gangs, criminals and the worst of the worst. Today we are demanding that the Administration end this policy now. We are urging Congress to reject Trump’s demands. We are asking Republicans to state where they stand—for cruelty and inhumanity or for children and families. This is not who we are or should be as a country,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS.
“While this administration continues to tear apart immigrant families, we will never stop fighting for our shared values of equality and our vision of America as a nation that believes in and strives for justice and fair treatment,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League.
“These policies are inhumane, and we will not stand by, just watching it happen. The administration must stop the family separations and allow immigrants the right to seek safety and asylum without fear that their children will be torn from them as cruel punishment.”
“There is no defending the migrant family separation policy, one of the most callous and cruel policies that we have seen emerge from this administration,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “By stripping children from their parents, we have diminished our standing on the world stage and invited objection and outrage from virtually every corner of society. I urge the Senate to move swiftly to reign in this unlawful action on the part of the administration.”
“The separation of children from their parents at the border is not only cruel and inhumane but is evidence of a morally bankrupt administration. America's promise to those who greet its borders and shores is one of opportunity and access to a better life. Instead, our government has met these families with traumatizing forced separation. Our history books will reflect on these abhorrent separations as some of the darkest times in this country's history. The National Urban League will continue to stand steadfastly with our partners in civil and human rights to urge the Trump administration to end no tolerance family separation immediately and we call on Congress to stop using children as pawns in a political game and pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, The National Urban League.
“The unjust White House policy to separate 2,000 children from their parents at the Mexican border, who are fleeing for their lives seeking asylum from violence and persecution in their home countries, is tantamount to ‘government sanctioned child abuse.’ This administration is using babies as pawns to build a wall on the border and using "rule of law" as their excuse to commit these inhumane atrocities. Shame on President Trump and GOP congressional leadership for choosing partisan gain over human rights and compassion for ‘the least of these God’s children’ that are being traumatized and ripped apart from their mothers and fathers. What kind of nation are we becoming, if we continue to allow babies, little girls and boys, to be put in cages and left alone, un-nurtured, wailing and crying themselves to sleep at night? We must all speak up and challenge these immoral acts by our government. God is not pleased, and voters of good conscience will remember this in November,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
“In the same way that Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks of a zero-tolerance policy concerning undocumented entry into the United States, so too are Latinos standing steadfast with other communities today in demanding an immediate zero tolerance for the separation of migrant families. These families are fleeing an unprecedented level of violence and terror in their home countries, which have forced them to seek asylum here in the United States. The cruel and inhumane policy of taking children from their parents, by the Attorney General's own admission, is a deliberate action that violates United Nations' agreements. LULAC calls upon all Americans outraged by these separations to contact their elected members in Congress and urge them to bring this policy to a halt; tell them that America does not stand for a practice that constitutes the torture and abuse of children on American soil—that is not who we are as a nation,” said Sindy Benavides, COO & Acting CEO, LULAC.
“This is a catastrophe created by this administration, and this administration has full power to end it. The attempts to gaslight the public, to offload responsibility for this disaster, and to double down on the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has been the president’s mainstay, demonstrate that this administration will not act. That’s why we need a functioning Congress to pass legislation that will end this inhumane practice. There are 49 Senators who support legislation designed to end this nightmare for immigrant families. All of them are Democrats. This should not be a partisan issue. We call on thinking, feeling, humane and responsible members of Congress to support the Keep Families Together Act, and to convene immediate oversight hearings of both the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, which have overseen and executed this terrible policy,” said Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
“Speaker Paul Ryan claims to have a moderate legislative fix. But don’t buy what he’s trying to sell. Ryan is moving forward an extreme bill that will not end the separation of families. For some children, it could mean prolonged incarceration and lower standards of care. The Ryan bill would also make it easier to deport vulnerable children seeking asylum back to the terror and violence they risked their lives to escape,” said Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Congress must reject his approach. Now is the time to show real bipartisan leadership. Now is the time to protect the values of fairness, equality, and inclusion. Our coalition calls on Congress to demand that President Trump end this inhumane practice and stand with all immigrants. Elected officials must recognize their humanity and stop using young people as pawns in a cynical polit