The White House has announced that it intends to announce administrative action for some of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented Americans. While the contours of the relief remain unclear, President Barack Obama’s action undoubtedly moves the immigration reform debate to a new place and promises to make real – at least in a limited way for the very near future – the right to family unity guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at articles 17 and 23.
But as the administration moves to keep families together with one hand, the other hand is doubling down on the detention of families fleeing to the United States in search of asylum.
The U.S. is required to uphold the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, but earlier this year the Obama administration began using immigration detention to deter asylum seekers in a misguided and draconian approach to people fleeing persecution. Although the president has framed the arrival of asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala as a humanitarian crisis, the approach taken by the administration has been anything but humanitarian.
Just days before the planned announcement of administrative relief for undocumented Americans, the administration reiterated its commitment to the imprisonment of families seeking asylum by confirming it plans to open the massive Dilley, Texas, family detention center before the end of the year.
“The Administration is playing more games with the lives of women and children fleeing violence. This time it’s a shell game moving people from one jail to another without regard for their well-being or human rights,” said Crystal Williams of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
There’s a dire need for the president to take administrative action on immigration. The first step should be ending the detention of families in the U.S.
MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor.
The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.