Last week, in a letter written to Congress, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asked for sweeping new authority to quickly deport unaccompanied minors (teens traveling alone) who are fleeing for their lives from Central American gang violence. Teens are more likely to be murdered in Honduras than any other country on earth.
The Secretary is also seeking additional funds to ratchet up the current administration’s practice of indefinitely detaining families seeking asylum, essentially jailing them or holding them in fenced concentration camps after they arrive at the border and request asylum lawfully. These practices re-traumatize asylum seekers who have already witnessed horrific human rights abuses and will send children back to incredibly dangerous conditions where they could be murdered. This action by Secretary Nielsen and the Trump administration is another attempt to deny the legal right to seek asylum in the U.S. to survivors of horrific crimes, including forced gang recruitment, and drug cartel, domestic and sexual violence.
The administration’s misguided decision to expedite the deportation of vulnerable children and jail families seeking freedom and safety abandons our core American principles and, indeed, our identity as the human rights leader of the world. All Americans—across political identities—must stand together to condemn these proposed policies, whose cruelty will be felt for generations.
Asylum seekers, many of whom are vulnerable teenagers traveling alone, are among the most vulnerable people at our border; denying them their rights is not just immoral, it’s cruel.
And it cannot be allowed to stand.