Families First

Author: 
Antonio M. Ginatta, CLS Policy Director

I put my family first, my country second. If the US government was committed to separate me from my wife and children, if the US president was loudly declaring his commitment to split us up, I know where my loyalties would lie.

For many families in the United States, that’s exactly what they are facing. The US government has declared its intention to split them up, and it’s showing them how, across the United States and here in Washington.

In Okanogan County, the father of a baby born in February to a US citizen mother was deported when he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. In Tacoma, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working to deport Armando Chavez Corona, a father of three and married to a US citizen. In Wenatchee, law abiding immigrant parents are offering to have their five month-old US citizen baby placed in the custody of their baby-sitter if they are caught up in a an ICE dragnet.

Immigrant families throughout Washington are asking whether they should make next month’s mortgage payment while other families have small suitcases packed by the entry door of the house in case ICE decides to remove them in the middle of the night.

These are just a handful of many examples in the first few weeks of the Trump administration.

And if the Trump administration’s disrespect of family bonds wasn’t sufficiently clear, they are now considering separating moms from their children in immigration detention.

The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection. That’s language in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document created in response to the Holocaust, to defend the fundamental rights of every person on Earth. That’s how important family is.

Trump’s version of immigration enforcement casts aside respect for families.

That’s why Governor Jay Inslee’s executive order on immigration, by helping to reduce federal intrusions into the life of immigrant and mixed-status families, is so important—same with cities around the state declaring their support for immigrants and their families and communities.

US immigration policy is deeply intertwined with respect for families. If the US government has to make a choice between enforcing immigration law and keeping a family together, the choice should be clear: family first.

 

For more on this topic, see Betraying Family Values, a recent report from the Women's Refugee Commission, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). The report demonstrates how the process of border enforcement "subjects families to separation, how children, even when accompanied by a parent, can be rendered unaccompanied, and how such separation impacts the family’s well-being and access to due process."