OWLS Issues Statement Opposing Family Separation at Border 
Issued June 29, 2018

Oregon Women Lawyers strongly opposes any policy of separating minor children from their parents when families present for asylum or cross the border into the United States for any reason. OWLS also strongly opposes any policy of placing minor children in immigration detention facilities. These unnecessarily cruel actions violate due process and are antithetical to OWLS’ commitment to ensuring justice and equality.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has pointed out that by removing children from a parent or parents on whom they have relied throughout an arduous journey to the border, the U.S. government is engaging in child abuse that can result in irreparable harm with lifelong consequences.

The American Medical Association has adopted a resolution opposing the practice of separating migrating children from their caregivers in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child’s well-being.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has severely criticized the U.S. border policy of separating migrant minor children from their parents, calling such actions ‘unconscionable.’

The separation of families and detention of minor children causes grave harm to children and their families. This inhumane policy has overwhelmed the criminal justice system and causes inefficiencies in the immigration court system when children, as young as toddlers, appear in court on their own, with no right to appointed counsel.

While the recent executive order appears to stop the routine practice of separating children from their parents, it does not present a lasting solution. OWLS calls on immigration authorities to immediately return the over 2,300 minor children who have been separated from their families to their parents. OWLS calls on congressional leadership to enact laws that will prevent these practices from ever recurring.

{We acknowledge the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Bar Association, and the American Medical Association for their contributions to this statement.}

Oregon Hispanic Bar Association Statement on Family Separation Policy
Issued June 29, 2018

The Oregon Hispanic Bar Association (OHBA) deplores the zero-tolerance enforcement policy of apprehending immigrants at the border, separating families, and denying families the opportunity to seek asylum.  We at the OHBA believe that this is contrary to the established rule of law in this country, including the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as affirmed in decades of case law and precedent at all levels, and it is a punitive action intended to deter vulnerable persons, many of whom have experienced significant trauma, from exercising their legal rights.  We find no legal or moral justification for these actions, nor is family detention a legally and morally justifiable alternative.  The criminalization of immigrants and refugees must stop and due process of law must be fully restored.

We are of the opinion that:

  • Detaining persons without intent to examine their circumstances is a due process violation.
  • Detaining persons to deny them the opportunity to request asylum is a due process violation.
  • Separating parents from children is effectively a due process violation, intended to intimidate parents into waiving their rights.  Such actions have already caused lifelong, irreparable damage to the children who cannot speak for themselves and cast a cloud a shame of this country.

We find it troubling that the change in process—not in law—which guides this zero tolerance policy, has no mechanism for placing children in the custody of parents, guardians, or relatives with established citizenship or immigration status.  Equally troubling, this change in process has no documented or demonstrated mechanism to re-unite families, especially if the parents or guardians are removed from this country.  We at the OHBA believe these actions constitute a serious violation of human rights with long-lasting consequences.

In commitment of our strong beliefs, the OHBA is donating $500 to Innovation Law Lab.  We call on our members to take action by calling on their Congressional representatives to sponsor bipartisan legislation that protects migrant children and families and by volunteering with or donating to organizations supporting immigrant families separated from their children.  Below is a list of organizations committed to assisting immigrants during this challenging time:

The OHBA urges our nation’s lawmakers, state and local governments, the owners and employees of private detention facilities, our legal colleagues, and our allies to move swiftly to reunite families and to produce a legal, just, and fair policy and mechanism to provide orderly immigration processes while allowing a respectful and human asylum policy to resume.

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Statement on Border Separation
Issued June 19, 2018

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) deplores the wholesale separation of children from their parents at the U.S. border, without the due process of law, as a devastating tragedy. The fact that these children and families are detained in facilities without an opportunity to be heard in court is contrary to our country’s established rule of law.

The NCJFCJ urges all to consider the adverse effects on these children, placed in congregate care, a placement strongly disfavored by federal law when they are removed from their parents. Not only are these children immediately traumatized, but also their chance for a productive and happy life is significantly reduced by their experience. We see similarly situated children in our juvenile and family courts daily and work with all parties involved to give children an opportunity to see their parents regularly and to gain a safe, permanent, and stable home. This is not the case with the children being removed at the border.

In 2010, the NCJFCJ adopted a resolution supporting a bipartisan amendment to the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act, which supports our nation’s immigration laws to be appropriately enforced, but must also protect children from unnecessary harm in the process.

To this day, the NCJFCJ, the oldest judicial membership organization in the U.S., supports the access of children to fair, equal, effective and timely justice by requiring provisions in state plans for adoption and foster care, including placement of children with a parent, legal guardian, or primary caregiver relative who is in immigration detainment or has been removed from the U.S.; mandates immigration enforcement personnel be better equipped by receiving vulnerable population and child welfare training; and implements measures for ensuring that immigration detention facilities take steps to preserve family unity.

We ask our nation’s leaders to reconsider the current separation policy so that these children are reunited with their families and not subject to further trauma.