Stop the cruel and unconstitutional separation of families at US borders!

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As reported on Father's Day weekend by Reuters, almost 2000 children were separated from their parents at the border in a little over 5 weeks including over 100 under the age of 4, which is an estimated total of almost 20,000 children separated per year.  As previously reported, the government last year “lost” 1475 or 35% of all children who arrived unaccompanied in 2017.  Extrapolating those numbers, its reasonable risk that 7,000 to 13,000 children could be “lost” and never seen by their families again under the current system.

For these families there is no due process, appeal, end date, rights of visitation, minimum conditions, deferral for hardship like illness, and for many a random but reasonable expectation exists of not ever seeing their children again! Even convicted felons though separated from their families, have both visitation rights, mail and phone access, and the mercy of knowing when their sentence ends! 

As Laura Bush the former first-lady so compassionately stated on Father’s Day…  “…this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history”

Imagine if you will, the government taking your children away, with no idea when or even if, you will ever see them again?  Happy Father's Day...

The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits slavery. Slavery was a multi-faceted system that encompassed many unique social and economic elements, the two most commonly known were the treating of humans as property and forced labor without any wages.  A lesser known but probably even more horrific and damaging aspect unique to slavery was the forced separation of families, as spouses and children could be taken away or sold at the will and whim of the master.   A question then arises if the 13th Amendment can be applied to prevent the forced separation of children of families who have not been convicted or even indicted with a crime? 

At the core of a legal question to me is does the 13th Amendment prohibit only the complete set of Slavery’s elements in combination? Or does it prohibit each aspect of slavery separately?   Strong evidence that the 13th covers each of the individual aspects of slavery separately are US prisons who pay their incarcerated workers even a small wage for work or prison duties.  If the issue of prison wages can be tied to the 13th Amendment, I believe the forced separation of families can as well.  There are also additional Constitutional issues of due process of law and the immigration authorities acting in power as a Court only can, as well as previous rulings regarding the internment of people of Japanese descent.  But I am not a lawyer, so I leave all these questions to those who have more experience. 

I have never been more proud as a citizen then when Attorney Generals Bob Ferguson of Washington and Xavier Becerra of California, among other states successfully protested in Federal Court the President’s clearly unconstitutional “travel ban" in 2017.  I believe this situation is vastly crueler than either Trump’s travel ban or the illegal interment of the Japanese and offers the potential for damage that stand among the worst in our nation’s history.  There currently is no plan, legal method or requirement to ever reunite these children and parents, so it constitutes a de facto permanent separation, and enormous violation of the separation of powers and loss of due process to probably over 40,000 people including parents and children per year.

My request is that the Attorney Generals of both California and Washington States would seek in Federal Court an emergency injunction prohibiting all federal agencies from separating non-convicted families at the border, and ordering the return of the ones previously taken, and I believe the 13 Amendment offers strong legal grounds for such a case.



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