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Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center

According to media reports, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed it will begin arresting the undocumented parents, guardians, and sponsors of unaccompanied immigrant children who have fled to the United States to escape violence and persecution and are waiting for decisions in their immigration cases. It is difficult to overstate the cruelty of the Trump administration’s decision. Families who have taken great risks to save their children’s lives, and then stepped forward to participate in the legal process so those children may have an opportunity to live safely in the United States, have now been told they may be torn from their children and sent back to the dangers they fled.

Tearing traumatized and vulnerable children from their families is immoral and goes against the values the United States is supposed to represent. It also is an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars. It serves no purpose but to further the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda and escalate fears in American communities.

The National Immigrant Justice Center urges families of unaccompanied immigrant children who fear they may be targeted by ICE to take time to understand their rights and to contact trustworthy immigration legal service providers to find out whether they have an opportunity to seek immigration status.

In Illinois and Indiana, families may apply for legal consultations at NIJC.