U.N. Says It’s Illegal To Separate Migrant Parents From Their Children, Urges Immediate End Of Policy

The Trump administration has taken a hardline stance against migrant families, enforcing a policy to separate them during the asylum-seeking process.

Separating migrant families is illegal, says the UN.
Hans-Maximo Musielik / AP Images

The Trump administration has taken a hardline stance against migrant families, enforcing a policy to separate them during the asylum-seeking process.

The United Nations has stepped in to tell the United States that the policy of separating migrant parents from their children during the asylum-seeking process is illegal. A spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, stated that it “amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” reported the New York Times.

The “zero-tolerance” policy, backed by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been heavily criticized. Recently, Sen. Jeff Merkel attempted to tour one of the facilities housing the migrant children and was denied access. A migrant father also reportedly killed himself in an immigration detention center after being separated from his wife and 3-year-old child.

Shamdasani added an urgency to end the policy.

“The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense — that of irregular entry or stay in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, the United States ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, blasted the U.N. for failing to point out what Haley believes are of greater importance.

“Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council.”

Regardless of the level of hypocrisy, however, the call from the U.N. to end this practice remains an important issue.

The U.N. focused on the welfare of the child when criticizing the policy, saying that “Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status.”

The exact number of children who have been separated from their parents is unknown. But in a two-week period in May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that over 650 children were separated from their families. The high number of children detained is likely attributed to the influx of migrants to the border, spurred by a large migrant caravan that traveled through South America and Mexico.

And because of the large number of children being detained, it’s becoming harder to find places to house them. CBC added that military installations may be used to house children. The condition of the children’s detention centers remains unknown, as Sessions also said that he had not visited any of the facilities.

Texas immigration lawyer Manoj Govindaiah elaborated on their opinion of the zero-tolerance policy, saying that “This is now the criminalization of asylum-seekers now being penalized for the way they’re coming to the U.S. and seeking protection.”