Failure to Reunite Children with Parents Reveals Depth of Administration’s Harmful Family Separation Policy

Washington, DC – In response to the administration’s failure to reunite nearly 3,000 children separated from their parents at the U.S. border by last week’s  court-ordered deadline, Mary Giovagnoli, Executive Director of RCUSA stated, “Forcible family separation is inflicting harm on thousands of children and families who are seeking protection and safety. The prosecution of parents and detention of families and asylum seekers is creating a humanitarian and legal disaster. To uphold our moral and legal obligations, keeping families together outside of family detention centers is more humane, cost effective, and ensures compliance with U.S. domestic law and treaty obligations.”

The July 26th deadline marked the second time in two weeks that the government has been unable to meet its legal responsibilities to reunite families. Despite significant charitable and voluntary efforts of numerous child welfare and protection groups, including some of RCUSA’s own members, to assist in family reunification, the harm to children and families persists as long as the administration continues its “zero tolerance” deterrence policy against children and families seeking refuge.

The crisis in the Northern Triangle of Central America requires a humanitarian, not punitive response. According to the UNHCR, more than 294,000 asylum seekers and refugees from northern Central America were registered globally by the end of 2017, an increase of 58% from the previous year. Honduras remains one of the world’s deadliest peacetime nations, while El Salvador has the highest homicide rate for people under the age of 19.

The 25 U.S.-based non-governmental organizations that make up RCUSA are dedicated to a robust refugee admissions program and humanitarian protection for asylees and other vulnerable individuals at the border, in our nation and across the world. RCUSA rejects proposals to expand family detention or separation and calls on the Administration to instead address this situation as a refugee protection crisis that requires a vigorous, compassionate response.

Contact: RCUSA Associate Director, Danielle Grigsby,