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Treatment of immigrant children in federal custody

June 2, 2018

LOS ANGELES, Calif – On Thursday, May 31 Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) held a press conference in his district to address concerns regarding numerous reports that the Trump administration had lost track of 1,475 unaccompanied minors last year. During the event, an array of immigration topics were discussed, including the shameful practice of using family separation policies as a deterrence, unsanitary conditions at immigrant detention centers, and the surge of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies targeting communities across the country.

Local and national immigrant and children’s rights groups joined the congressman on stage as he called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate the treatment of immigrant children in federal custody.

“Initial reports about the US Department of Health and Human Services’ failure to account for 1,475 unaccompanied minors last year provoked a national uproar of anger and outrage,” said Congressman Gomez. “The fact that a large contingent of Americans instinctively assumed the worst about the Trump administration in this instance speaks volumes to this president’s utter lack of credibility when it comes to the welfare of immigrant children. I share my constituents’ distrust about this administration’s ability to keep these vulnerable kids safe. And as a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I’ve called on my colleagues to investigate if children in federal custody are being mistreated and to ensure they’re being provided with critical health and legal services. Given the president’s actions and rhetoric are those of someone intent on attacking the dignity and humanity of immigrant communities, strong oversight isn’t just a reasonable approach; it’s a necessity.”

"Even mixed-immigration status families – those with a US citizen spouse or children – are not spared the shockingly brutal and cruel treatment of immigrants under the Trump administration,” said Angelica Salas, Executive Director of The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). “Criminalizing families, separating children from their parents, providing shoddy care and mistreating youth at detention centers, and threatening loved ones who sponsor children with deportation, is a practice that shocks the conscience. This is not the American way. We remind President Trump that in order to remain the greatest nation on earth, we have got to respect the values that define America: family, unity, opportunity, and freedom."

“Immigrant families have long endured trauma, anxiety and other longstanding negative health impacts due to unjust policies that separate families and go against American values of inclusion and equality,” said Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership. “Since the onset of the new Administration, heightened immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant rhetoric has instilled a deeper fear across communities, threatening the health, security, and well-being of children in immigrant families in every community across the state. As advocates for all children, we seek to make clear the consequences of separating children from their guardians and look forward to advancing just policies that defend and protect the dignity and rights of all children.”

“CARECEN denounces the administration's policy to separate children from their families,” said Camila Alvarez, Managing Attorney for the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). “The policy of family separation is cruel and inhumane. Rather than separate children from their loved ones, the administration should support family unity and legal representation for vulnerable children and their families.”

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