Position Statement – Opposing Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy

The Cheltenham Democratic Committee (“CDC”) opposes Trump’s zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents at the US-Mexican border.  This family separation policy is not based on US immigration law and is reprehensible, cruel and inhumane.

Since May 2018 when Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly announced this policy almost 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the border and placed in detention centers, as reported by the Department of Homeland Security.  Hearing the voices and cries of children separated from their parents in recordings released by ProPublica further exposes the inhumanity of this policy.  Taking a child from a parent and putting them in a cage with strangers—with no way to contact their parents—is likened by former First Lady Laura Bush to immigrant children being held in Japanese internment camps during World War II.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has said the practice of separating children from their parents can cause the children “irreparable harm”.  These monstrous acts are likely to result in lasting emotional scars with real costs for thousands of children. The Cheltenham Democratic Committee believes that our moral failure will be remembered by our victims, by our voters, and by the world.

While comprehensive immigration reform may be necessary, it is unconscionable to invoke the traumatization of children as a bargaining chip in our democratic process, and the American public rejects the concept. A recent Quinnipiac University poll reports that two thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family separation policy.  President Trump has chosen to ignore public opinion and instead falsely blames Democrats’ intransigence for continuation of the policy.  The simple truth is that his administration is using children as political pawns.

The Cheltenham Democratic Committee believes that this policy of separating families who are in many cases fleeing violence in their own countries and seeking asylum in America offends our core values as a democracy.  We cannot turn a blind eye to this injustice.  As American theologian and political commentator Reinhold Niebuhr once said, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”  We must defend the human rights of all people.

The Cheltenham Democratic Committee calls on Congress to oppose Trump’s zero tolerance policy and urges you to cosponsor Senate Bill 3036 introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, CA).  SB 3036 known as the “Keep Families Together Act” prohibits an agent or officer from removing a child from his or her parent at or near a port or entry, or within 100 miles of the US border, except in instances of termination of parental rights, child trauma or abuse or neglect, or if a child is a victim (or at risk of becoming a victim) of trafficking.  The Cheltenham Democratic Committee believes that we should have the courage to take a stand against Homeland Security Secretary Kirjsten Nielsen, who will not offer an apology for this reprehensible policy.  This is not a partisan issue; this is a human issue.  Congress must act immediately to keep families together.  

June, 2018

Based on this position statement, the following has been sent to PA's US          Senators Robert Casey & Pat Toomey.  We encourage you to reach out to voice your opposition.

Dear Senator,

As your constituents, we urge you to oppose President Trump’s zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents at the US-Mexican border.  This family separation policy is not based on US immigration law and is reprehensible, cruel and inhumane.

Since May 2018 when Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly announced this policy more than 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the border and placed in detention centers, as reported by the Department of Homeland Security.  Hearing the voices and cries of children separated from their parents in recordings released by ProPublica further exposes the inhumanity of this policy.  Taking a child from a parent and putting them in a cage with strangers—with no way to contact their parents—is likened by former First Lady Laura Bush to immigrant children being held in Japanese internment camps during World War II.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has said the practice of separating children from their parents can cause the children “irreparable harm”.  These monstrous acts are likely to result in lasting emotional scars with real costs for thousands of children. Our moral failure will be remembered by our victims, by our voters, and by the world.

While comprehensive immigration reform may be necessary, it is unconscionable to invoke the traumatization of children as a bargaining chip in our democratic process, and the American public rejects the concept. A recent Quinnipiac University poll reports that two thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family separation policy.  President Trump has chosen to ignore public opinion and instead falsely blames Democrats’ intransigence for continuation of the policy.  The simple truth is that his administration is using children as political pawns.

This policy of separating families who are in many cases fleeing violence in their own countries and seeking asylum in America offends our core values as a democracy.  We cannot turn a blind eye to this injustice.  As American theologian and political commentator Reinhold Niebuhr once said, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”  We must defend the human rights of all people.

We call on Congress to oppose Trump’s zero tolerance policy and urge you to co-sponsor Senate Bill 3036 introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, CA).  SB 3036 known as the “Keep Families Together Act” prohibits an agent or officer from removing a child from his or her parent at or near a port or entry, or within 100 miles of the US border, except in instances of termination of parental rights, child trauma or abuse or neglect, or if a child is a victim (or at risk of becoming a victim) of trafficking. 

As constituents, we ask that you have the courage to take a stand against Homeland Security Secretary Kirjsten Nielsen, who will not offer an apology for this reprehensible policy.  This is not a partisan issue; this is a human issue.  Congress must act immediately to keep families together.

While it appears that President Trump has signed an order rescinding this policy, there are still serious concerns that remain:

  1. What’s the plan for reuniting children with their families after being torn apart with many separated  by large distances, i.e. children in New York & parents in Texas?

 

  1. Families housed in cages together is NOT a solution.   How will families be protected from degrading and inhospitable conditions?

 

We have a moral obligation to deal with crisis situations expeditiously for ALL AMERICANS as well as those who enter our country seeking refuge from intolerable conditions.  We ask that the U. S. Government return to a humanitarian practices when dealing with crises.

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