The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has recently condemned the United States for its zero-tolerance policy mandating that migrant children illegally entering into the southern border must be separated from their parents.
The Human Rights Office stated that separating families is unlawful and a serious violation of the rights of the child: “While the rights of children are generally held in high regard in the US, it is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child… The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns. It is therefore of great concern that in the US migration control appears to have been prioritised over the effective care and protection of migrant children. Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.”
Many have raised deep concerns for the psychological damage the children may be experiencing. Reports have been made of children as young as one being taken from their families as a result from the zero-tolerance policy. In addition to these events being traumatic, children and families are often traveling to the U.S. as a way to flee the dangerous conditions occurring in their own countries. Thus, the U.S. treating refugees seeking asylum as criminals has prompted criticisms like the U.N.’s Human Rights Office’s.
Showing no remorse, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley responded to criticisms: “Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council. While the High Commissioner’s office ignorantly attacks the United States with words, the United States leads the world with its actions, like providing more humanitarian assistance to global conflicts than any other nation. We will remain a generous country, but we are also a sovereign country, with laws that decide how best to control our borders and protect our people. Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its borders.”
President Trump also tweeted about the issue: “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.”
Additionally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan defended the zero tolerance policy, stating: “Children and parents get separated every day across this country when a parent is charged with a criminal offense. It’s sad to see children cry when you take a parent out of a home, but because it’s sad, doesn’t mean that we ignore the law.”
Despite what Trump tweeted, the policy that has resulted in mass separations of children from their families was implemented by the Trump administration. Yet with Trump’s denial of the origin of this traumatic policy and officials defending the U.S.’s firm stance in spite of child’s rights violations, opportunity for change in the zero-tolerance policy appears distant.