United States must end the separation of migrant families and stop treating asylum seekers, including children, as criminals
At the initiative of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament last week adopted a resolution on the situation at the US-Mexican border, calling on the Trump administration to end the separation of migrant families, and to urgently reunify all children who remain separated from their parents.
It is shameful that conservatives from the EPP and ECR groups decided not to support the common text, closing their eyes on the appalling conditions in which thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, including children, are held in the US immigration facilities and shelters, lacking access to basic rights such as water, food and medications. Nevertheless, we are relieved to see that we got the majority in this newly elected chamber that believes that children should never be held in immigration detention and should never be separated from their families.
Nacho Sánchez Amor, the SED MEP and negotiator of the resolution, said:
“The practice of separating family units after crossing the US border as a tool of migration deterrence is simply intolerable. It is a double punishment inflicted on children and their families for the mere fact of being migrants or asylum-seekers as, in addition to the traumatic consequences of the separation itself, they have to face appalling conditions in dangerously overcrowded detention centres which do not meet minimum human rights standards. The use of economic coercion or threats of punitive tariffs in order to impose changes on migration policies on a neighbouring country is another example of the unacceptable policies put forward by the Trump administration, in front of which the international community must stand firm.”
S&D Group vice-president, Kati Piri, added:
“The United States is facing an unprecedented migration crisis to which the Trump administration is responding with violent pushbacks of asylum seekers and indefinite detention of migrants, and the traumatising separation of children from their families. Just this week the large-scale raids on undocumented immigrants started, criminalising the most vulnerable group of our societies.
“These actions are not only an attack against human dignity. They constitute a flagrant violation of US and international refugee law.
“Of course, I am aware that also in Europe the situation is not perfect when it comes to treating migrants. As Socialists and Democrats, we never miss opportunities to call on our governments to live up to the best standards. But, at the same time we must speak a clear language: the Trump administration’s separation of children from their families is cruel, inhumane and goes against international law. Therefore, it should end immediately. As Progressives across the Atlantic, we share a collective responsibility to show a humane and dignified way forward.”
Note to editors:
According to data disclosed by the US agency for Customs and Border Protections to Amnesty International, between 2017 and August 2018 approximately 8.000 families were separated after crossing the border, and at least seven migrant children have died last year while in the custody of US Customs and Border Protections. Although in June 2018 a federal judge in San Diego ordered the administration to halt separation, it turns out that it was never really stopped, and more than 200 children have been removed from their families after the ruling.