As more stories of the number of children separated from their family at the US border come to light, the UN has come forward urging America to stop their current inhumane policy. “The US should immediately halt this practice,” UN spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters in Geneva. “The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child. The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles.”
The number of migrant children separated from their parent now stands at more than 11,000 — some of these children are very young. Beyond the fact that the rights of migrants are not only enshrined in international law and United States law, it is appalling and galling that the common-sense need to protect children is being so obviously flouted. “The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns,” she said. “It is therefore of great concern that in the US, migration control appears to have been prioritized over the effective care and protection of migrant children. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.”
Trump, in his traditional response style, has tweeted a mildly incoherent, unsubstantiated string of nonsequiturs.
Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
In reality, Trump’s administration has been enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy on the southern border since May. For children who are separated from their parents, it can take an average of forty-five days to place them with a sponsor. Many of the areas that the children are held in are not suitable for long-term stays. “It would be highly inappropriate and even unsafe to hold children for extended periods in these short-term border facilities because they often lack the adequate medical and nutritional resources for these young people,” Greg Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told NBC News. “It would place these children at risk of harm if they are housed with adults without the proper privacy that children should have.”
Although it’s debatable whether Donald Trump or his administration will heed calls from the UN, it is crucial that the pressure from the international community continues. Thousands of children are behind separate from their parents, living in inadequate conditions, and undergoing a trauma that the US should be ashamed to inflict. They need to keep being reminded of that, if there’s any hope for a change.