Over a month ago, the Department of Justice established a new zero tolerance policy that has led to the mass prosecution parents and the separation thousands of children from their parents.
Voices for Utah Children thanks all Utahns, including Senator Orrin Hatch, Representatives Mia Love, Chris Stewart, and John Curtis and Governor Gary Herbert for their forceful condemnation of immigration policies that tear children away from their parents.
But sadly, this not the only threat the Trump administration has leveled at immigrants and their children.
More than 55,000 Utah children have at least one immigrant parent. The great majority of those children are citizens, and our state’s economic future depends on their success. It should surprise no one that loving parents are critical to the well-being of children. And yet a series of new policies have already and could soon result in more separation of families. They include:
- Announcing plans to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It affects more than 10,000 young people in Utah. The President said he wanted a “bill of love” to ensure that Dreamers could continue to live and work here, but he hasn’t encouraged Congress to pass anything that wasn’t bogged down in initiatives that were doomed to fail legislatively.
- Declaring that any families who present themselves at the border must be separated. President Trump said over the weekend that he wanted to “end the horrible law” that requires this, but there is no such law. It’s his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, announced publicly in May. It’s their own new interpretation of what’s required, and previous Republican and Democratic White Houses didn’t see it this way.
- Proposing changes to the federal policy by which immigrants might be deemed a “public charge.” The idea is to discourage lawfully residing immigrants from seeking publicly funded services, from health care to nutrition programs like SNAP. If they do, they would be deemed a public charge and be ineligible to renew their green cards or otherwise follow the path to citizenship. The result could be that tens of thousands of citizen children in Arkansas go without health coverage, nutritious food, and resources, including resources from Earned Income Tax Credits that their parents have earned working low-paying jobs. They might go without because their parents would have to choose between giving them the resources they need and losing their right to live in the United States.
- Declaring an end to Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Central America, Haiti, Nepal and Sudan. Those who currently have this status cannot return to their countries of origin because of unsafe conditions (which is why they were granted the status to begin with). And now they’re losing their lawful status here.
- Increasing arrests and deportation of people who have no criminal record in the United States, thus separating more hard-working parents from their citizen children. In the first year of this administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested far more people without criminal records – a 171 percent increase – than it did 2016. The arrests of people without records jumped from 46,000 to 109,000.
This isn’t the “pro-family” or “pro-American” Administration that the President promised to lead. We, as a people and a nation, can and must do better by all our children.