The Keeping Families Together Act


SEATTLE, Washington –For many years, the migration of families from different parts of the world has continued to raise issues at borders. Many of these families travel across the world looking for refuge from their homes and seeking a better life. What most have found, however, are similar conditions to which they left, sometimes resulting in the separation of their families. The Keeping Families Together Act was developed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein along with 31 colleagues. It serves to ensure that families will no longer have to undergo these issues by protecting their rights as human beings.

Keeping Families Together Act

The Keeping Families Together Act ensures that no child is taken away from their parent or legal guardian unless there is an immediate problem. An independent child welfare official would review each case and return the children to their families if there aren’t any real concerns.

Many families that are separated are those who have been convicted of illegal entry or re-entry. This bill ensures that parents who are seeking asylum be protected. If families are separated, the bill requires that both parents and children are given the information needed to stay in contact and reconnect with each other. The procedures should be communicated to the families in a language that they understand.

How the Separation Affects Children?

Currently, in border processing centers, many children that have been taken away from their families are placed in confined and dirty cells. The children often go for days without any medical attention and are not given the ability to continue their learning. When families are separated, it not only causes discomfort and distress but also places psychological stress on the children. Furthermore, these children are denied any emotional support without their families. This neglect is known to cause anxiety, depression, traumatic stress and other psychological disorders.

UNICEF is working diligently to find better solutions, such as “foster-care settings, group homes and open-door shelters.” These options would provide a much safer and less traumatic space for children during their family’s detention. For more than two years now, UNICEF has been fighting the notion that the U.S. can reduce migration by arresting parents and separating families. UNICEF believes that under no circumstances should a child be separated from their families due to the possibility of traumatic and irreversible harm.

The Act’s Developments

The latest bill was introduced to the House on January 14 with 200 co-sponsors. It is still under review by Congress. More work must be done to make sure that enough members from both parties are in support of the Keeping Families Together Act. Many children are still being separated from their families, but with the help from organizations that focus on the protection of children, steps have been put in place to begin the process of creating alternative solutions.

Emilia Rivera
Photo: Flickr


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