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June 14, 2018 5:14 pm

US Jewish Groups Slam Government’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy, Citing Separation of Children From Parents

avatar by Ben Cohen

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An undocumented migrant from Honduras with her son at a relief center in McAllen, Texas in April 2018. Photo: Reuters / Loren Elliott.

Several of the most prominent Jewish organizations in the US have roundly condemned the government’s practice of separating children from parents who cross the American border illegally.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen organized by the Anti-Defamation League, 26 Jewish organizations protested “the recently expanded ‘zero-tolerance’ policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border.”

“Many of these migrant families are seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence in Central America,” the letter pointed out. “Taking children away from their families is unconscionable.”

The letter argued that “such practices inflict unnecessary trauma on parents and children, many of whom have already suffered traumatic experiences.”

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It concluded: “Our own people’s history as ‘strangers’ reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just.”

The June 12 letter — signed by the ADL, Hadassah, the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith International, among others — came during a week of growing concern about the fate of more than 1,400 boys being detained at a shelter in Texas, many of whom were sent there following the arrest of their migrant parents.

Journalists who visited the Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville, Tx. on Wednesday, located in a former Walmart store, reported that the boys, aged from 10-17, were being housed and fed in clean, but overcrowded, conditions. One account from broadcaster WQAD noted that the shelter was “noisy but highly organized, with scores of staffers leading skeins of boys to various activities.”

The WQAD report quoted a representative of the shelter who said that the children are able to call their families. Parents held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities may not have phone access or be reachable, the representative acknowledged, but he added that “a majority of separated children have other family here they can call.”

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