• Press Release

Media briefing on family separation during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 19, 2020

Man holds a sign that reads
Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images
Family residential centers that are detaining families throughout the United States are now weaponizing the public health response to COVID-19 to punish and deter people seeking safety, much as they have previously done with the “zero tolerance” family separation policy, Amnesty International USA and immigration advocates will discuss, in a new media briefing.

With renewed family separation during COVID-19, parents are now being presented with unconscionable – and unnecessary – choices: either to separate from their kids or to stay together, but in dangerous conditions in detention, with no idea when they would be freed. Many children are as young as 1-, 2-, and 3-years-old are being separated from their parents during the global pandemic.

The Trump administration has previously floated the idea of Family Separation 2.0, or “binary choice,” in 2018 and again in 2019, where parents would face the heartbreaking “choice” of either separating from their kids as they’re placed either with sponsors or the Office of Refugee Resettlement or stay together as a family, in inadequate conditions, for uncertain periods of time. This briefing will focus on what advocates, attorneys, doctors, and community members are currently witnessing.

Those wishing to call-in must RSVP to Mariya Parodi at [email protected]. International lines will be available. Please let us know where you are calling from, if outside the U.S.

WHAT: Briefing by Amnesty International USA and leading advocacy groups on family separation during COVID-19

WHEN: Thursday, May 21, 2020, 2:00 PM ET

HOW: Please RSVP to [email protected] for call-in information


The briefing is sponsored by Families Belong Together, a coalition including nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds across the country who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.

The public briefing and Amnesty International USA’s previous report, ‘We are adrift, about to sink’: The looming COVID-19 disaster in US immigration detention facilities, are both available here: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/amid-covid-19-authorities-release-immigration-detainees/