Dear Members of the 115th Congress of the United States of America,
The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) stands in vehement opposition to the recent adoption of policies by the Department of Justice that facilitate the separation of immigrant families.
The families seeking refuge in the United States are fleeing dire circumstances such as war, natural disaster, and domestic violence. They hope for a new home in America, not only to protect their children, but also to contribute to our economy and society. In the last six weeks, 2,000 children have been taken from their parents on our southern border, and no commitment to “law and order” can rationalize this disturbing injustice.
Immigrant families are being separated because the Department of Justice shifted its policy with regard to undocumented immigrants: immigrants suspected of crossing the border without documentation now face criminal prosecution, disallowing the parent to stay with the child. At its core, this policy is nonsensical and destructive.
Violating immigration law is a civil offense, not a criminal offense, and should be treated as such. Prosecuting undocumented immigrants as criminals and detaining them in federal detention centers is not a proven deterrent for future migration. Rather, it is a wasteful use of costly law-enforcement resources, and it has a severe impact on the families that are detained.
Separating children from their parents is traumatic and psychologically damaging. Furthermore, the child detention centers lack the resources to care for the number of immigrant children that have been taken from their caregivers. Medical professionals have confirmed that taking a breast-feeding child away from his or her mother can have serious detriments to health and development.
On behalf of the USHCC, we stand alongside the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and legislators on both sides of the aisle in opposition to the separation of immigrant families. As our leaders in government continue to debate broader immigration reform, we implore you to outlaw this disturbing practice. Family separation violates the very notion of human decency, as well as the most basic ideals of our nation.
Interim President & CEO
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”