On the heels of a federal court ruling on Monday that found President Donald Trump's restrictions on asylum claims unlawful, Amnesty International USA marked World Children's Day with a demand that the administration immediately stop detaining migrant children.
"This World Children's Day, children are locked up behind bars in the United States with their families, indefinitely, in fear of what will happen to them next."
—Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA
After worldwide outrage over Trump's policy that forcibly separated thousands of children from their parents—many of whom came to the United States seeking asylum—led to its repeal and a court mandated the reunification of families, the administration opted to detain families together despite warnings of the impact on kids.
"What the U.S. government is doing is abhorrent," Amnesty International USA executive director Margaret Huang declared in a statement Tuesday. The administration, she noted, "could release these families while they pursue their asylum claims."
"All children deserve to be safe and protected, to live with their parents and their families, and to have their voices heard," Huang added. "Instead, this World Children's Day, children are locked up behind bars in the United States with their families, indefinitely, in fear of what will happen to them next."
Specifically, Amnesty—along with American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Dilley Pro Bono Project—is calling on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release the hundreds of families in prolonged detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Many of them came to the U.S. fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
This #WorldChildrensDay, we're calling for all children currently being held at the Dilley Detention Center to be freed with their families, and for the USA to end its plan of expanding family #detention centers.#FamiliesBelongTogether#FreeTheFamilies https://t.co/bBiOCBsQwo
— Mariya Parodi (@MariyaParodi) November 19, 2018
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World Children's Day recognizes the day in 1959 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (pdf), which was followed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) exactly 30 years later. Although the U.S. signed the CRC, it is the only nation on the planet that has failed to ratify what UNICEF describes as "the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history."
"The United States has failed to protect children's rights," Huang concluded, "refusing to do what is best for children while it continues to pursue cruel policies of hate and demonization."
The call from Amnesty International USA and U.S.-based human rights groups aligned with commentary from across the globe acknowledging that more than half of the world's refugees and displaced persons are children.
This #WorldChildrensDay, let's remember that over half of all #refugees and displaced persons around the world are children.
@Refugees are helping children seek asylum and restore their futures. Support them here: https://t.co/LD4RHGYGB7. pic.twitter.com/J8cez4qS8A
— Pur BIEL (@Pur_Biel) November 20, 2018