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Responding to the order of U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee in Flores v. Barr, Denise Bell, the researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA said:

“Today’s hearing confirmed ICE’s reprehensible behavior last week, when it needlessly caused emotional trauma to families by ineptly presenting them with the choice to be separated from their children. As advocates have said, ICE presented families with a binary choice of separating or staying detained together indefinitely, and ICE conceded its actions amounted to a binary choice.

“No parent should ever have to choose between their child’s safety or their child. Families are already scared and constantly worried for their health – they should not also have to worry about whether they’ll ever see their loved ones again. ICE’s treatment of families seeking safety is unconscionable and cruel.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, ICE has a choice to either let families stay together and free or to keep them shut in despite dangerous and life-threatening conditions. ICE has chosen again and again to make an unconscionable choice.

“They chose to cause parents and kids unnecessary emotional pain and trauma and to this day, they continue to come up with ridiculous reasons to deny kids as young as 1 years old their freedom. No child should continue to be trapped in immigration detention, simply because of their immigration status. This continues to be all the more reprehensible during a health emergency.

“No longer should ICE be using the pandemic against families. Everyone has the basic right to seek asylum in this country, even during a pandemic. All of us have the right to safety and health. ICE should release all families together and stop punishing people for seeking safety.”

More information

Yesterday, Amnesty International USA launched a new briefing, Family Separation 2.0: “You aren’t going to separate me from my only child.”documenting ICE’s weaponizing of its public health response to COVID-19 to punish and deter people seeking safety. Amnesty International USA and immigration advocates held a media briefing on family separation during the COVID-19 pandemic – a recording of the media briefing call is available here.

As part of a new campaign, #RightsNow! Amnesty International USA is demanding basic human rights in the COVID-19 response and recovery. From healthcare for all to freeing people in immigration detention, to addressing the terrifying spike in gun sales and fighting for a just recovery, it’s a campaign demanding that President Trump and Congress put human rights at the center of the COVID-19 response. RightsNow! is not just about surviving this pandemic – it’s about creating a new future where all of us can live in dignity and thrive.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected] 

People can donate to Amnesty International USA’s work here.