Families in ICE Detention Forced to Make Impossible Decision During COVID-19 Pandemic: Indefinite Detention or Family Separation


Media Contact:
Suzanne Arnold, [email protected], (609) 610-4957

Save the Children & Save the Children Action Network Call for Immediate End to Harmful Policy

Washington, DC (May 29, 2020)

The administration’s implementation of a “binary choice” policy at three U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Family Detention Centers is forcing parents to make a devastating and impossible choice – to remain in detention indefinitely with their children or to surrender their kids to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) are urging Members of Congress and the Trump administration to prioritize children and act in their best interest by putting an immediate end to this harmful policy.

“Parents should never, under any circumstances, have to choose between guaranteeing the safety of their children and being separated from them indefinitely,” said Mark Shriver, Save the Children’s Senior Vice President for U.S. Programs & Advocacy and President of SCAN. “This harmful policy blatantly disregards the legal obligations provided by the Flores Settlement Agreement, which was written and adopted to protect vulnerable children.”

According to a recent Amnesty International report, court filings and lawyers of detained families reported that parents were presented with forms describing the options available to them: to remain in detention indefinitely or to be separated from their children. Many families were denied the opportunity to show these forms to their lawyers, even though many could not read them, as they were presented in English only. In a May 15court filing, “Parent Does Not Wish to Separate” was cited as the reason ICE did not release children from detention.

Save the Children and SCAN continue to advocate against family separation, as it is shown to cause significant damage to a child’s social, emotional and intellectual development and well-being.

“Children – no matter who they are or where they are from – have the right to be protected. This shameful policy forces parents to make an impossible decision. Simply put, this is a dangerous policy that will result in kids losing their childhoods,” continued Shriver.

In the past 24 hours, SCAN advocates have sent more than 13,600 messages to Congress and the Administration calling for this policy to be overturned. Save the Children, together with SCAN and its 350,000 grassroots supporters across America, will continue to closely monitor this situation and advocate for vulnerable children and families.

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Save the Children Action Network was created in 2014 as the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, to be the political voice for kids. We work to ensure that the issues critical to children’s lives and futures are given top priority by our elected leaders, building bipartisan support to make sure every child has a strong start in life. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.