To President Trump, members of Congress, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
As mothers, fathers, and people who care deeply about children and families, we urge you to stop the callous separation of children and families and to demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release immigrants children and their families together from ICE detention, where COVID-19 is an ever increasing threat.
We demand that ICE comply with Judge Dolly Gee's order to release all children who have been detained for more than 20 days by July 17, and that all family members and guardians of detained children be released as well with their children. Not ONE more child should be separated from their families!
ICE and DHS have separated and abused families for far too long. Because of the neglectful practices of immigration authorities, COVID-19 is running rampant in detention centers and lives have already been lost. The actions of these agencies not only endanger families but also put public health at risk as detention center staff carry the coronavirus home to their communities.
ICE's policies of family separation have gone on for far too long, and compliance with this order must not serve as a pretext to separate families that have already endured the trauma of detention. In May, ICE attempted to coerce detained families into an impossible choice: sign away their rights to their children so they could be let out of jail and be placed with a sponsor, or remain detained indefinitely in jail. ICE must not attempt to force families to choose between their child’s health and keeping their families together.
This COVID-19 crisis demands that we lean into our humanity and dignity as a nation, not abject cruelty. All families must be released together immediately, and that these family jails must be permanently shut down.