By Nelson King
NEW YORK CITY, New York June 21, 2018 (CMC) – Caribbean-American, Democratic New York City Councilor, Jumaane Williams, has rejected United States President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order that seeks to curtail the separation of families at the US border, by detaining parents and children, together, for an indefinite period.
“The Trump administration’s Executive Order does nothing to fix the humanitarian crisis at our border, and does nothing to reunite the thousands of children ripped from their families, or as Trump referred to them, ‘animals’, as they flee danger and hardship in pursuit of a better life, or as Trump said, to ‘infest our country’,” Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation, late last night.
“This is not an acceptable solution,” added the representative for the predominantly-immigrant 45th Council District in Brooklyn, New York. “The Republicans, who wholeheartedly support the president, and the Democrats, who have played politics, are to blame for dehumanizing those most in need, while feeding into Trump’s bigotry and xenophobia, and so must push back against this fascist and fledgling Nazi regime.”
“New York stands strong with our immigrant communities, and will not be party to this atrocity,” continued Williams, a candidate for New York State’s Lieutenant Governorship. “We must be a sanctuary city, a sanctuary state, and stand in fierce opposition to Donald Trump and his allies, as they target the most vulnerable among us.”
Trump, on Wednesday, acquiesced to scathing criticism and nationwide outrage over his policy of separating children from their parents at the US border, by signing the new Executive Order to keep detained parents and children together.
“We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” said Trump, as he signed the Order in the Oval Office in the White House. “I didn’t like the sight, or the feeling, of families being separated.”
But legal and political analysts say Trump still faces legal and practical hurdles, as a United States federal judge could decline to grant the administration authority to detain families for more than 20 days, according to a 1997 US court order.
Analysts also say that the new Executive Order fails to address the plight of over 2,300 children, who were already separated from their parents, under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
Just hours before Trump signed the new Executive Order, New York State legislators and advocates held a press conference at the State’s capital, Albany, condemning what legislators described as “the heartless policy of separating children from their families”, and ripping the White House for its refusal to end the practice.
“Our country is a nation of immigrants, and I reject any attempt to crack down on vulnerable people, fleeing unimaginable circumstances in an effort to save their families’ lives,” New York State Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, told the CMC after the press conference.
“We have all seen the tragic images of children in cages at the border, children ripped away from their parents, and we have also heard horrifying cries of these young children, as they scream out for their mothers and fathers,” added Bichotte, representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“The type of country that would do something so appalling to families, merely seeking a better life for themselves, is not one I want to call home,” she continued.
Earlier this week, Caribbean American Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke, expressed outrage over the separation of children from their parents at the US border.
“There is no act lower than ripping innocent children from the arms of their mothers,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told CMC on Sunday.
“We have hit an all-time low as a people and a country,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “It is one of the most inhumane, cruel acts that could ever be taken by the Trump administration.”
Henrietta Fore, the head of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said, on Tuesday, that separating children from their families is in no-one’s best interest, pointing to “heartbreaking” stories of infants, who had been removed from their parents, after entering the US from Mexico, illegally.
In an appeal to the US, regarding its recent policy change cracking down on migration at the border with Mexico, Executive Director Fore said, in a statement, that children who were in need of international protection “have the right to be protected and be with their families”.
She underscored how, for decades, the US government had provided support to “uprooted children” from Syria or South Sudan, Somalia, or Haiti, before warning that detention and family separation can create “toxic stress”, which can impact on children’s long-term development.
Fore said that any youngsters, forced to flee their homes, should have access to essential services and be with their families, since this gave them “the best chance at a healthy, happy and productive future”.
Echoing that message, UNICEF spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac, in Geneva, said that immigration and children’s rights were not incompatible.
“I think our main role here, is to make the point that what’s happening is not right and, more than that, immigration enforcement and protecting the right of children are not a zero-sum game,” he told reporters.
Boulierac said that the US is the only country that has signed, but has yet to ratify, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
He cited Article 9 of the international accord, which specifies that a child “shall not be separated from his or her parents, against their will”, except after judicial review and only if it is “necessary for the best interests of the child”.