Families Belong Together: Protesting Trump’s treatment of immigrant families

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Families Belong Together Iowa City

University of Iowa Pentacrest — Saturday, June 30 at 10 a.m.

Community members hold signs high and march in support of immigrants and refugees on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann

Activists across the nation are organizing rallies to protest the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrant families detained by federal agents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Iowa City will be participating in the Families Belong Together protests with a rally on the University of Iowa Pentacrest at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 30.

On the Iowa City rally’s Facebook page, organizer Helene McClean Lubaroff announced the protest will be held even though President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday ending his policy of automatically splitting up detained families. Lubaroff wrote, “[Trump’s] not backing down, AND NEITHER ARE WE!”

Trump signed the executive order after weeks of claiming there was nothing he could do to stop the internment of adults and their children in separate facilities, sometimes thousands of miles apart. More than 2,300 children have already been taken from their parents under the previous policy, and the executive order does nothing to reunite those children with their families.

“There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases,” Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told the media after the order was signed. Hours later, a different HHS spokesperson said Wolfe “misspoke” and the agency was “awaiting further guidance” regarding what to do with the children already taken from their families.

The Trump administration had been justifying its policy by saying it needed to be able to intern the immigrants it detains for indefinite periods of time, and a consent decree signed by the U.S. government to settle a Reagan-era lawsuit prevents it from locking up immigrant children for more than 20 days.

The so-called Flores Agreement is the result of federal court decisions that mandate immigrant minors be held in the least restrictive custody possible and be released to family members as quickly as possible.

On Thursday, the Trump administration filed a petition in a federal court, asking for the provisions of the Flores Agreement to be changed to allow children to be interned for longer, possibly indefinite, periods of time alongside their parents.

Iowa’s senior senator, Chuck Grassley, has recently been calling for the repeal of the Flores Agreement.

“I want the Flores Agreement repealed so that we don’t have family separation because I don’t think we should have family separation and we don’t need to have,” the senator said on Tuesday.

Despite Grassley’s contention, the Flores Agreement in no way requires family separation. It has been in place since 1997, and the Clinton, Bush and Obama administration were able to abide by it without splitting up families.

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