In the last two years, the number of children and families arriving at the border seeking asylum has increased dramatically, with more than 95,000 children and families arriving in May of 2019 alone. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has implemented policies like zero tolerance, family separation, metering, “remain-in-Mexico,” and are now using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to shut down the border and expel thousands of children and families without their chance to claim asylum.
A new House Judiciary Committee report confirms what many have long suspected to be true: the Trump Administration always intended to separate families, with blatant disregard towards individuals and families’ rights to claim asylum. The report shows how the earliest directives to separate families began as early as February 2017, just one month after President Trump’s inauguration. And, despite concerns raised within the Administration and its inability to track the families it separated, pressed on to implement its nationwide Zero Tolerance policy, which resulted in more than 5,000 children separated from their families, and at least 545 who still have had no contact with their parents years later. It’s clear the Administration has proved completely unwilling or unable to keep families together since the very beginning.
Every day, horrifying new stories emerge about the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. The crisis has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, which the Administration has used as an excuse to separate families at the border. At a time when people seeking legal protection are extremely vulnerable, the Administration has further dismantled the asylum system in the U.S. and is putting people in danger. Federal agencies are not prepared to handle the spike in arrivals, contributing to well-publicized issues with overcrowding in unsafe and unsanitary conditions for extended periods of time. Once they are released, they struggle to navigate the broken process to apply for legal asylum.
Want to help, but not sure where to get started? Here are five ways you can support directly-impacted families and organizations serving immigrant communities: