Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protest #keepfamilestogether

Protesters hold signs during a demonstration outside an Immigration and Cutsoms Enforcement (ICE) office in San Francisco, California on the National Day of Action for Children on June 1, 2018. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

UN Calls on US to 'Immediately Halt' Policy of Tearing Children Away From Parents

The human rights office says the practice "amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child."  

Jessica Corbett

The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration "immediately halt" its policy of tearing migrant children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring that the practice "always constitutes a child rights violation."

"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."
—U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights

Under the administration's so-called zero tolerance policy, unveiled last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, border agents separate children from their parents at the border and prosecute the adults. The approach, which is being framed as a deterrent to stop migrants from attempting to enter the country, has been widely denounced as "evil" and spurred protests from immigrant rights advocates.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement on Tuesday that the office is "deeply concerned" by the U.S. government's decision to separate migrant families, arguing that the policy "amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child."

"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," Shamdasani declared, noting that the practice seems to have been in effect since October and has been applied "to both asylum-seekers and other migrants in vulnerable situations."

"The child's best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns," she continued, emphasizing that the policy "runs counter to human rights standards and principles."

"The majority of people arriving at the U.S.'s southern border have fled Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—in many cases either because of rampant insecurity and violence, or because of violations of a range of other rights, such as health, education, and housing," she noted. "The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense."

Shamdasani also pointed out that although "the rights of children are generally held in high regard in the U.S., it is the only country in the world not to have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child." The convention explicitly states that children "should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding," and has been active for nearly three decades.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·


'We're Not Stopping': Weeklong D.C. Climate Protests End With 650+ Arrests, Vows to Fight On

"There is no other planet to escape to. Water is life... They need to listen to the youth. They need to hear us speak our cries."

Brett Wilkins ·



Ousted by AOC, Joe Crowley Now Lobbying Against Tax Hikes on Corporate Giants

The former chair of the House Democratic Caucus once called the GOP's 2017 tax law a "scam," but now he's collaborating with Wall Street to undermine attempts at progressive reform.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Corporate Fraud at Its Worst': J&J Hides Behind Bankruptcy Amid Baby Powder Lawsuits

"Here we go again," said Elizabeth Warren. "Another giant corporation is abusing our bankruptcy system."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo