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HIAS Statement on Executive Order Establishing Indefinite Family Detention

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SILVER SPRING, Md.—Today, President Trump signed an executive order ending the practice of separating parents and children at the border. Instead of families being torn apart, they will now be detained indefinitely. The 1997 Flores Consent Decree prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention, even if held with their parents, for more than 20 days.

In response to this new executive order, HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield issued the following statement:

“Transitioning from the cruel and inhumane policy of family separation to the cruel and inhumane policy of indefinite family detention cannot be the solution here. Children do not belong in prison. As we learned during the last administration, there is simply no good way to do family detention. The practice contravenes the Flores settlement and too often prevents asylum seekers from receiving the legal and humanitarian protection they deserve.

“Any child that has been separated as a result of this administration's ‘zero-tolerance’ policy must be reunited with his or her family immediately. Family separation and detention should not be used as deterrents from applying for asylum protection under U.S. law.

“Rather than implementing immoral policies, the government should pursue compassionate and cost-effective alternatives that respect human rights. Once an asylum officer has determined a detainee has a credible fear of persecution, he or she should become eligible for affordable bonds, release to family members, case management and legal assistance, and check-ins with authorities. Once released, intensive monitoring can help ensure appearances for scheduled court hearings. Whatever path this administration chooses, continuing on as a country which jails women and children seeking safety must not be an option.”

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