Administration officials representing President Donald Trump are still needlessly and cruelly trying to keep immigrant families separated from their children.
Nearly a dozen families who crossed the border over the past year remain separated due to a malicious policy previously put into place by Trump. That policy was rescinded last month by executive order after pressure from the public to be more empathetic — yet some families remain apart due to very questionable reasons.
The Trump administration won’t reunite these families based on the criminal histories of parents who want their kids back. And in some ways, these restrictions can make sense — one parent, for example, is being separated because they were convicted of cruelty to children. But other parents are being barred access to their kids for infractions as meaningless as having a DUI on their record years ago.
It’s not clear how minimal or major the infractions of all the parents are because the administration is also refusing to explain each of the nearly dozen cases to the public.
Attorneys representing the parents are trying to fight these restrictions, arguing that some instances of criminal behavior by immigrants who crossed the border shouldn’t warrant an indefinite time separated from their children.
“The conviction has to bear on your fitness to be a parent,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said. “If you stole a shirt 15 years ago, that has no bearing on your ability to parent.”
Attorneys from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law agree. In a complaint on the matter, they also said that the due process of these immigrants was being compromised.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement “prolongs children’s detention on the ground that their parents or other available custodians are or may be unfit, while affording neither detained juveniles nor their proposed custodians a meaningful or timely opportunity to be heard regarding a proposed custodian’s fitness,” their statement read.
In other words, these families remain punished by the government, and they have no recourse to fight or challenge that punishment in a court of law.
Reasonable standards can be created to keep children safe from parents who are potentially dangerous to them. But those standards shouldn’t lump abusers in with others who committed minor infractions.
Gelernt said as much in his own statement on the matter.
“If New York City couldn’t take a child away from a parent under city law for a certain type of offense, then it’s not enough to refuse to reunite these parents with their children,” he said.
That standard seems more than reasonable — much more so than the standard currently being employed by the administration.