June 21, 2018

Responding To The Executive Order Addressing Family Separation: A Letter From PIRC’s Executive Director

Dear Friends,
Detaining children is not okay. Ever. PIRC has served the family detention center in Berks County Pennsylvania since 2006. We know that locking up children is harmful. And it is not necessary.

Alternatives to detention exist, cost less, are more humane, and keep families together. In June 2017, the administration shut down an ICE family case management program that was less expensive and more effective than detention, a program that allowed children to remain with their parents, and ensured parents appeared at their asylum hearings.

So why separate children from asylum-seeking parents at the border?
Why issue through Executive Order the inhumane policy of detaining children indefinitely? Both the Obama and Trump administrations made the choice, out of fear, to treat families fleeing violence and requesting asylum as a national security risk, not a refugee crisis. This policy position asserts that punitive measures are effective deterrents and that the end justifies the means. Neither is true. Families seeking asylum face death and violence if they return to the countries they’ve fled. Detaining children is not a solution.

Issued on the heels of a border separation policy which made no plans for tracking the 2,000+ children taken from their parents, nor how to reunite them, the Order’s statement that it is the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity is disingenuous. This Executive Order is indifferent to the trauma that separation and detention inflict upon children, instead of seeking to expand our country’s family detention system. This is not who we are as a nation.

PIRC has advocated for asylum seekers for more than 22 years. Today, our resolve remains strong. We stand with immigrants and defend those seeking refuge. We support immigrant families, both at the border and in our communities. And, we will continue to speak out against injustice.
We are grateful for your shared resolve.  

In alliance and peace,
Mary StudzinskiPIRC Executive Director