Washington, DC – Recently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made public an August 2017 directive on Detention and Removal of Alien Parents or Legal Guardians, which replaces a previous ICE directive that emphasized that ICE personnel conducting enforcement activities should not unnecessarily intrude on the rights of immigrant parents and their children. The previous directive was put in place to increase chances that parents could maintain a relationship with their children, make childcare arrangements, and allow them to participate in proceedings that could determine their parental rights. By making a number of changes, including removing the term “parental interests” and eliminating training requirements on parental interest matters for ICE personnel in the field, the new directive significantly reduces protections for parents and families involved with immigration proceedings.
New data reviewed by The New York Times shows that more than 700 children have been taken from undocumented/immigrant guardians since October, including more than 100 children under the age of four. This data comes from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which takes custody of children who have been removed from migrant parents.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
ICE’s decision to remove protections for parents and their children is a stunning example of the Trump-Pence administration’s hypocrisy when it comes to its so-called ‘family values.’ It is clear that rolling back these common sense protections for children and their families will only lead to more families being torn part.
Without these protections, parents could be ripped away from their children with no ability to maintain a relationship or ensure their safety and well-being. It is unconscionable that children as young as under four years old will be robbed of the opportunity to grow up with their parents and potentially without any plan for their own care in place.
At Planned Parenthood, we believe that everyone has the right to raise a family and that being able to live together with your family is part of living a happy and complete life. This administration is engaging in a number of initiatives that separate families as part of its draconian immigration enforcement efforts, contributing to the already very real fear of deportation, which continues to drive more and more people into the shadows. We cannot sit by silently while this administration uses family separation as a tool to play to its political base and diminishes America’s moral authority in the world.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.