Dear D.H.S. Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Members of Congress,
Recently, the New York Times reported that more than 700 children have been taken from parents arriving at our borders since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4. Punishing asylum seekers by separating families is inhumane and beyond belief, yet it's the story of too many mothers and children who seek asylum on our shores. Separating families causes unnecessary trauma to children and families, overburdens our current government systems and causes immigrant children and families to live in fear.
In addition to being cruel, separating families is also expensive. The government practice of detaining mothers and children apart from each other would cost taxpayers an average of $327 million per year.
The poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty boldly declares:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
This spirit of welcome of immigrants is our nation’s strength. We believe that families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, and that hard work should be rewarded. Separating mothers from their children does not represent the values we teach our children -- or what we aspire to be as a nation.
We call on Congress and Secretary Nielsen to protect basic human rights of women and children who deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect by ending these harmful practices that harm our families, communities, economy and country.