No mother should be separated from her child – tell the Department of Justice, "No!" - Define American

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  • This administration claims it is separating families in order to deter people from entering the country, but has communicated no plan for how to reunite them. What is the administration’s plan to reunite children with their parents?


FACT: The Administration Is Jailing Parents While Their Children Are Left to Languish in Detention

  • Until recently, people apprehended crossing into the U.S. were held in immigration detention and sent before an immigration judge to see if they would be deported as unauthorized immigrants. That all changed with the government’s new policy.
  • Migrants who’ve been referred for criminal prosecution get sent to a federal jail and brought before a federal judge a few weeks later to see if they’ll get prison time. This is where the separation happens — because you can’t be kept with your children in federal jail. Due to a Supreme Court ruling, there is no definite timeline for how long a person can be detained without a hearing.
  • Upon being separated from their parents, children are officially designated “unaccompanied alien children” by the U.S. government.

FACT: The Administration Has Not Published a Process for Reuniting Children with Their Parents Under This New Rule

  • Under federal law, unaccompanied alien children are sent into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The ORR is responsible for identifying and screening the nearest relative or family friend living in the U.S. to whom the child can be released.
  • 1,475 immigrant children from last year cannot be found, with the HHS Secretary stating in recent congressional testimony:

“From October to December 2017, HHS called 7,635 children the agency had placed with sponsors, and found 6,075 of the children were still living with their sponsors, 28 had run away, five had been deported and 52 were living with someone else. The rest were missing, said Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary at HHS..”

  • There is currently no process for bringing children and their parents back together, despite the fact that their parents did not know about the new policy of separating children from parents.

FACT: This Policy Is Not Deterring People from Entering the United States

  • The number of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. without authorization remained near record levels in the month of May.
  • According to administration officials and Border Patrol agents, the governments deployment of National Guard troops have not had an immediate deterrent effect.
  • The stated goal of this administration’s adoption of separating children at the border is to act as a deterrent for future migrants entering the country.  The high numbers of entry act as an early indication that “zero tolerance” measures are not having an immediate deterrent effect.  


Watch the Video HERE

In 2014, a refugee escaped El Salvador to protect her life and talks to Define American from a shelter housed at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. This story is eerily similar to those we are hearing today at our border.  You can email us with stories at [email protected].


  • What are the implications of trying all immigrants — mothers, fathers — as felons in federal court?  In an era where the administration consistently communicates its mission to deport and remove “criminal aliens,” we must be wary of any attempt to criminalize a larger portion of the otherwise law-abiding immigrant population.
  • Why are detained immigrants attempting to come to the United States?
  • In other times in U.S. history when migration has fluctuated or increased, how have previous administrations handled family migration? How does this practice speak to the larger values that define us as a nation?
  • Most educated U.S. residents do not understand complexities of immigration law and do not follow what is happening on our southern border. Why do we expect someone fleeing violence in another land to be an expert on it?
  • Why continue a practice that has been ruled inhumane by so many from across the global and national ideological spectrum when it is not even accomplishing the stated objective of the administration?