Newport Beach, CA - The Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County (HBA) joins the many bar organizations around the Country who were outraged at the recent separation of children from their families at the United States border. Thankfully, thousands across the nation acted. They spoke out. They shared posts on social media at "viral" speed to raise awareness. They phoned and wrote their legislators. Amid that outcry, President Trump signed an Executive Order meant to end the separation of families at the border. However small, it was a victory for those who acted.
Regrettably, there is much more work to be done. The new Order simply replaces one bad policy with another. Instead of separating immigrant children from their parents, government agencies will indefinitely "detain" them with their family. Removal proceedings in these matters can take months or even years. The net result: minors will be imprisoned as the wheels of justice slowly turn. This is contrary to the basic core values of a nation built upon freedom and due process.
This Order also fails to provide a plan or solution for the more than 2,000 children who have been and continue to be separated from their families. These children are housed in temporary shelters, often traumatized by their separation from their family in a foreign country. Worse, it is incompatible with the 1997 Flores Agreement (generally required the release of children from detention without unnecessary delay to parents or other family, and placement in the least restrictive setting appropriate to age and need while detained).
This misguided "zero tolerance" policy has created a human rights crisis in our country. With full knowledge of the consequences, this Administration reportedly believes that family separation should be used as an immigration deterrent. That is unacceptable.
Yet, the detention-center practice and its many related problems did not originate with this Administration. To be blunt, legislators and past administrations have utterly failed to adequately address these issues, for years.
Now is the time for action.
The HBA urges this President and leaders in this Senate and Congress, to act immediately. We join the call for the appropriate agencies to immediately:
- end detention for families who have not been deemed a flight or security risk;
- establish clear visitation guidelines that afford family, friends, and independent observers to visit and monitor conditions in detention facilities; and
- provide the right to free legal counsel for all immigration detainees (who are being treated essentially the same as criminal defendants who would be constitutionally entitled to an attorney).
The HBA will act as well. Our members are urgently exploring avenues to assist detained minors at the southern border in whatever ways possible. For more information and to see how you can help, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County
About The Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County: The Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County promotes education, unity, and excellence in the Hispanic legal community by expanding the business and professional opportunities available to its members, enhancing the members' business and professional stature in the Hispanic community, increasing the participation of Hispanic leaders in civic affairs and enhancing the quality of life for the members and the community.
For more information please visit www.ochba.org.