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July 18, 2018

6/27/2018 3:05:00 PM
Council Weighs in on Family Separations at Border
By Mary Helt Gavin

The City Council on June 25 adopted a resolution opposing policies of the Trump administration that result in separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. In approving the resolution, the Council joined many other voices raised in opposition to the Trump administration’s policy.

The resolution, proposed by Mayor Stephen Hagerty, urges reunification of families separated at the border and takes into consideration, among other things:

• that the U.S. Department of Human Services has confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has separated more than 700 children, including 100 children under the age of 4, from their parents;

• that the U.S. Department of Justice has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy toward individuals apprehended at the border, which calls for the criminal prosecution of all migrants entering the U.S. outside of ports of entry;

• that the “prosecution-first” mentality is costly and unnecessarily punitive, especially as it affects family units;

• that the U.S. has a “higher standard than legality, with our country’s most basic moral commitment being human rights and dignity;

• “forced family segregation and the intentional infliction of injury to children are below the standards of the U.S. and inconsistent with American family values; and the punishment of forced separation is not commensurate with the parent’s alleged offense;

• that many families are fleeing violence in their home countries, and it is inhumane to punish them for seeking safety and invoking their right to seek asylum in the U.S.

The resolution continues that, although on June 20 President Donald Trump signed an executive order that provides for a broad stop to the policy of separating families at the border, the order does not reunite families who  have already been separated and allows for the indefinite detention of children with their parents. Because of these considerations, the Evanston City Council “registers its strong opposition to separating children from their families at the border and calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to allow all families apprehended to remain together to the extent possible, to help avoid the heartbreak and irreversible trauma of forced separation.”

In the resolution, Council also “urges Congress to take action immediately to ensure that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are prohibited from this wholesale separation of children from their families at the border and the indefinite detention of children with their parents, contrary to federal prohibitions on detaining children in immigration facilities for longer than 20 days.”

The City will forward copies of the resolution to Illinois Congressional representative, Pres. Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Mayor Hagerty said because of the lack of leadership in Washington, D.C., it is important for cities to take the lead.  He said, “I feel this resolution reflects the values of Evanston.”


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