Adopted at the 86th Annual Meeting in 2018

  • WHEREAS, considerable attention has been paid to the plight of children at the Southern border and the New York Times recently reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has separated more than 700 children from their parents since October 2017, including more than 100 children under age four; and

    WHEREAS, the Department of Justice has adopted a "zero tolerance"? policy toward individuals apprehended at the border, which calls for the prosecution of all migrants entering the United States outside of ports of entry and the resulting forced separation of many children from their families; and

    WHEREAS, the new policy establishes that for parents and caregivers who are processed in the criminal court system and held in federal jails, their children will be classified as unaccompanied minors and housed in shelters awaiting placement with a US-based adult who can assume their care and if the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) cannot locate a US-based adult able to care for the child, the child will stay in federal custody, separated from family, indefinitely; and

    WHEREAS, according to media reports, the number of children in HHS custody has grown by nearly 2,000 over the past month alone, shelters for migrant children are reportedly at 95 percent capacity, and HHS is preparing to add potentially thousands of beds in the coming weeks to accommodate the rising number of detained children; and

    WHEREAS, separating children from their families in this manner is inconsistent with American family values; and

    WHEREAS, many of these families are fleeing violence in their home countries, and it is inhumane to punish them for seeking safety and invoking their right to seek asylum in the US; and

    WHEREAS, by adopting a policy that forcibly separates immigrant families, DOJ and DHS fuel the climate of hostility experienced by many immigrants and refugees residing here, which causes many to feel alienated and avoid contact with government agencies, which impacts public safety,

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors registers its strong opposition to separating children from their families at the border and calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to immediately reverse these destructive policies and allow families apprehended to remain together to the extent possible, to help avoid the heartbreak and irreversible trauma of forced separation; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to take action immediately to ensure that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are prohibited from this wholesale separation of children from their families at the border.

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