President Donald Trump’s Executive Order ending family separation while a zero-tolerance policy continues only offers the spectre of entire families being locked up in the type of conditions that have drawn national outrage, civil rights groups here said.
“The Trump Administration is writing an Executive Order to end the inhumane practice of separating children from their parents, in order to lock them up as a family in cages,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said at a press conference at Rainbow PUSH Wednesday.
“We the people stood up and loudly spoke out: ‘Not in our name.’ But now we’re going to have internment camps for the entire family, just a step down in the inhumanity scale,” Jackson said.
Speaking as Trump was signing the order at the White House, the civil rights leaders said the groundswell of opposition that forced the administration’s reversal must now focus on its zero tolerance policy of prosecuting all migrants who cross the borders illegally.
It is that policy that led to families being sent to government-run facilities as parents were taken to detention.
“Our nation faces a crisis, a man-made crisis. This grotesque zero-tolerance policy demeans every person involved,” said Steven Monroy, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “We are working to challenge this unprecedented assault on families through the legal system. In the meantime, something else must be done.”
The leaders said this is why they are demanding the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Jeff Sessions must resign. His implementation of a zero-tolerance policy to convict and punish parents for taking the risk to avoid unavoidable violence being visited upon their children is mindless, lawless and insupportable,” Monroy said. “Sessions does not know the law, nor care what it says. He is incompetent and inhumane, and there is no place for him in the Justice Department.”
They called on Congress to enact legislation outlawing future family separations, and proactively preventing detention of families with their children under similar warehouse conditions.
“It is outrageous and unacceptable to me that a president spends more time and energy telling us to respect a flag than he does how we treat human beings in this country,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger said. “The Republicans control this Congress. Step up. Act like a Congress. Act like you’re representing the American people, and not covering for an inhumane president.”
The groups said they are seeking resolutions by the City Council, Cook County and state of Illinois denouncing future inhumane treatment of families in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement system, and asking churches across the metropolitan area to open their doors as sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation.
“The president is just now reacting because of all the pressure we’ve put on across the country, so we’re calling on everyone to keep the pressure on,” said Emma Lozano of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
“Understand that some of these parents have already been deported. How are we going to reunify these children with those parents?” Lozano asked. “The Executive Order is just the beginning. We’re going to be asking the mayor and the whole City Council, the county and the state, for a consensus on how we should treat families.”