VEGA Joins Fellow InterAction Members in Letter to Congress: Opposing Family Separation and Detention of Asylum Seekers at the Southern Border

By , Promoting Prosperity Worldwide

Read the full letter here.


Dear Speaker Ryan and Leaders McConnell, Pelosi and Schumer:

We write today to urge Congress to take immediate and decisive action to end the Administration’s policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and detaining children and families at the U.S. / Mexico border. Any such action should also immediately reunify children who were separated from their parents by previous Administration orders. Mass detention of families is unconscionable, regardless of the legal status of migrants, and prosecuting asylum seekers is a direct violation of their legal rights under U.S. law and treaties to which the U.S. is a ratified party.

InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based development and humanitarian NGOs. As organizations who have supported or directly delivered assistance to displaced persons and other vulnerable populations overseas, we know both the unique challenges and responsibilities that host governments and communities face. Based on our experience, we believe there is no challenge that could possibly justify mass detention of migrant families. The U.S. has spoken out against very similar practices by other countries. This cruel and inhumane practice undermines our moral standing internationally – particularly with other countries that are hosting refugees and asylum seekers.

The trauma caused to children and families seeking refuge in our nation by these policies will have ramifications for generations to come. On an individual level, children who undergo detention or have been forcibly separated from their families experience toxic stress that can profoundly and permanently impact their mental, physical, and emotional development. Any remedial action taken by the Administration or Congress should also seek to address the psychosocial support needs of children and families traumatized by such separation and detention.

Over 2,000 families were forcibly torn apart in the past six weeks. Thousands of separated children are still being held in tent cities or other deplorable detention facilities by U.S. authorities. Asylum seekers have been prosecuted in direct violation of U.S. law and treaty commitments. Ending separation of new arrivals only addresses one aspect of this cruel and inhumane policy while allowing others to continue. If the Administration fails to immediately end and remediate its unacceptable policies, it is up to Congress to stop these injustices that undermine our identity as a nation.