New York, NY, July 26, 2018 — Responding to the Trump Administration missing the July 26 deadline to reunify nearly 3,000 children who had been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President, IRC U.S. Programs, said:
“Today’s failure to hit the court-mandated deadline plainly demonstrates that family unity and the wellbeing of already-traumatized children is not a government priority. We ask the Trump Administration, why not, and when will all separated children be reunited with their parents?”
“Children remain inexcusably left in limbo: Stuck without access to information; afraid and alone; and even facing the prospect that their parent have already been deported. This cruelty is unacceptable and un-American: The administration must immediately reunify all families separated at the border and end its policy of zero tolerance”
In the past few days, the IRC has been active in Phoenix, San Antonio, New Jersey, and Northern California. As of yesterday, July 25, the government had reunified just 1,012 of the 2,551 identified children ages 5 and up. The Administration also indicated that at least 914 parents would not be reunited with their children by the deadline, including 463 parents already deported without their children.
The IRC will continue to serve families separated by the US Administration
The IRC continues to mobilize a rapid response to offer emergency assistance as well as case management to families who have been released from immigration custody. The IRC will provide a range of services to asylum-seeking families through its 27 office network spanning the United States. These services will be provided in two general areas:
- Emergency assistance, which may include temporary housing, access to emergency medical services, access to communications, transportation, cash assistance, and other basic needs.
- Case management support such as providing clients with knowledge on their legal rights, mental health and social integration assistance, job readiness services, and limited legal services in addition to referrals for more complex legal needs.
Separating children from parents causes trauma and toxic stress in children
The IRC is very concerned about the welfare of children in detention and separated from their families and in particular, the psychological impact that separation has on children. Toxic stress from displacement and violence can stunt cognitive development and hinder a child’s ability to learn as well as predispose them to violent and aggressive behavior.
This new response to serve reunited families builds on the IRC’s long-standing work with both with unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the United States and with newly resettled refugees and asylees. Using evidence-based tools for rapid assessment of emotional distress and safety needs, the IRC will work with each family to develop a safety plan to address both physical and psychological safety and ensure they are not isolated and that they are referred to clinical care when needed.
The IRC is seeking urgent public support for this effort. Donations will help the IRC respond to and support families as they are released from detention.
For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact Charlie Ozuturk at charlie.ozuturk [at] rescue.org.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.