Statement on Family Separation Policy
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 ofthis 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:
- Sheridan Pro Bono Project in Oregon
- CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project
- Al Otro Lado
- Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
- Urban Justice Center Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
- South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
- Together Rising
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.