AILA Public Statements, Correspondence

AILA Recommends NO VOTE on the Daines Amendment 4236 to NDAA

12/1/21 AILA Doc. No. 21120113. Admissions & Border

As the FY22 NDAA amendments are considered today, I write on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association to express our opposition to the Amendment offered by Senator Daines 4236, which would limit the federal government’s ability to provide settlement payments to immigrant families who were victims of the Trump administration’s illegal and inhumane family separation policies.

Under the previous administration’s Zero Tolerance policy, thousands of children were forcibly taken from their parents while their parents were sent to immigration detention. While in government custody, parents were told by officials to hand over their children so that they could be given food and baths, only to discover weeks and months later, that many children would never be returned to their parents. As the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General acknowledged, the Trump administration took children despite knowing that no systems were in place to reunify them with their parents.

As a recent peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrated, children who were forcibly separately from their parents suffer from long-term negative physical, mental, and emotional effects of the trauma of separation. This proven trauma has forced separated families and their lawyers into delicate negotiations with the Department of Justice regarding the possible settlement of claims. The amendment offered by Sen. Daines is an unprecedented effort to undermine the discretion of the Department of Justice. Moreover, if the amendment is successful it could cost taxpayers more money in the long run by blocking settlement and forcing cases to trial.

VOTE NO ON SENATOR DAINES’ AMENDMENT 4236, which would not only turn a blind eye to the indefensible family separation policy but also prevent redress for its victims. A vote for this amendment is an endorsement of the horrific practice of tearing children from their families.