Release and Reunification, Not Detention

Last Tuesday, a federal judge in San Diego issued a preliminary injunction calling for families currently separated as a result of the administration’s immigration policy to be reunited. The decision requires children under the age of five to be reunified with their parents within 14 days, and all others to be reunified within 30 days. Parents must also be allowed to contact their children over the phone within 10 days.

This injunction makes progress toward undoing the damaging, inhumane effects of the family separation policy. It halts the separation of families without cause at Ports of Entry, as well as putting an end to the deportation of parents without their children. These are both practices which have caused unspeakable pain and suffering to thousands of families in the past. We commend U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw for his powerfully worded opinion, which points out the full culpability of the current administration for the horrors experienced by immigrant families in recent weeks.

Nevertheless, the road to reunification will be long and complex, and in times like these, it is especially critical that all men, women, and children in immigration detention have access to legal orientation and representation. The Florence Project will continue to work towards reunification and release from detention for the hundreds of separated families we are serving.

Moreover, the injunction issued on Tuesday does nothing to address the criminal prosecutions of parents that cross between Ports of Entry and resulting family separation during such prosecution, nor does it stop the administration from expanding family detention. Even when families remain together, the experience of being incarcerated is traumatic, and prolonged incarceration without due process is a violation of basic human rights. Detained immigrants also face great difficulty accessing the resources necessary to fight their cases. In this moment, legal service organizations like the Florence Project are crucial to ensure that detained immigrants are represented and provided with the information they need.

We continue to stand against the criminalization of immigrants in all forms. We will continue to advocate for our clients to be released from detention, and reunified with their family members. We will keep serving detained immigrants in Arizona with the same commitment as we have for the past 30 years, at the ready to respond to new challenges as they arise.