We Face A Choice With The Treatment of Asylum Seeking and Migrant Families, But It’s Not Between Family Detention and Family Separation.

By Kaitlyn O’Shaughnessy, Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

The world has become acutely aware of a human rights crisis at the southern border. The separation of children from parents isnothing short of torture, and hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets and signed petitions to advocate for the end of family separation.

At the same time, President Trump’s proposed “solution” to detain children with their parents indefinitely is no solution at all. After weeks of cruelly separating children from their parents at the U.S. Southern border, President Trump claimed to end family separation by signing an executive ordermandating children be incarcerated with their parents in immigration detention centers while their asylum claims are processedor until they are deported. This practice continues. However, the U.S. government cannot “solve” this crisis of its own making by imposing indefinite family detention as an alternative to family separation. It is not a choice we have to make. It is not a question of which policy is better than the other. Both violate human rights; both destroy childhoods.

The American public is instead faced with a different choice: Will we allow this false premise to stand, and pick and choose between human rights? Or will we hold the administration accountable and treat all families with dignity and protect their safety at the border?

We must continue fighting against family separation and family detention. More than 300,000individuals are detained by U.S. immigration authorities each year. Many of these are children and families seeking protection in this country. The use of detention as a tool to combat irregular migration falls short of international human rights law, which contains a clear presumption against detention. Everyone has the right to liberty, freedom of movement, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained. Asylum seekers have the right to seek protection in the United States without seeing their families destroyed.

Human rights cannot be ranked, traded one for another, or used as bargaining chips. Neither are human rights based on citizenship, ethnicity or any other factor. They belong to asylum-seekers and migrants the same way they belong to American citizens. We must not stand by and watch the human rights of asylum-seekers and migrants be trampled on by allowing family detention to continue as the alternative to family separation.

The separation and prolonged detention of families of migrants and asylum-seekers entering the US irregularly are human rights violations for which there is no moral or legal justification. When it comes to human rights, we do not choose which violations we will allow; we protect all human rights for all humans equally.

Defend the rights of asylum seekers and migrants everywhere. Sign up to visit your Member of Congress this Augustand urge them tocosponsor and support theKeep Families Together Act(S.3036/H.R. 6135) And the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act(S.2468/H.R. 2043).