Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Families fleeing violence in Central America could be separated under President Trump

by Austin Cross and A Martínez | Take Two®

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Immigrants from El Salvador and Guatemala who entered the country illegally wait at a bus station after they were released from a family detention center, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in San Antonio. Women and children are being released from immigrant detention centers faster on bond, with many mothers assigned ankle monitoring bracelets in lieu of paying. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Eric Gay/AP

In an appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stated that the Trump administration was considering a new tactic to deter families fleeing violence from Central America from coming into the U.S. 

Kelly told Blitzer that minors traveling with parents could be separated upon entry. 


No changes have been solidified, but immigrant attorney Lindsay Toczylowski told Take Two's A Martinez that the move is unlikely to achieve the result desired by the Trump administration. 


It sounds like the situation in Central America hasn't improved much at all.

The "Northern Triangle" of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — has continued to be one of the most violent regions on Earth. We continue to see hundreds of kids coming to us who have really suffered great harm and who have been victims of sexual exploitation, of sexual abuse. It's a very dire situation that they're fleeing from. 

The Homeland Security secretary, John Kelley, confirmed earlier this week that he's considering separating migrant parents from their kids if they come together as a family. How would that work?

This would be specifically for families who are coming to seek asylum because for them to even have entered family detention under the Obama administration, they would have had to have expressed a credible fear that they thought they might be tortured or persecuted if they returned to their home country. 

Specifically, for these families who come here fleeing violence, after they pass that credible fear interview and the parent was detained, it sounds like what Secretary Kelly is suggesting is that they would then detain the parents separately and then send the child to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and immigrant detention centers. 

This is something that we have never contemplated before, but I think that it would be extremely harmful to the kids and to the parents if we were to see this happen. 

Separating a kid from their parents. Why do you think the administration is considering something like this?

Secretary Kelly's own words were that they see this as a further deterrent. This is language that we've heard before. Initially, family detention was supposed to be a deterrent — something that would prevent people from coming from Central America. But I think this really misses the mark on why people are coming. 

What we see are that families are not fleeing to the United States, they're really fleeing because there is just such incredible violence and their lives are at risk. So when we see parents who are coming across the border, the stories that we hear from the children and the parents is that they're really fleeing for their lives. They thought that if they didn't leave their home countries that they would die or their children would die. 

It's unclear to me that any sort of mechanism for processing these families would act as a deterrent in the way that the department is suggesting. 

Click on the blue bar above to listen to the entire interview.

(Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.)

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