Credo Action

Tell Alex Azar and Kirstjen Nielsen: Let the children go. Stop sharing sponsor data with ICE.

Sign the petition

The petition to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reads:

"Stop helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement target and detain immigrants who apply to sponsor children in detention. End data sharing between the Office of Refugee Resettlement and ICE."

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    Tell Alex Azar and Kirstjen Nielsen: Let the children go. Stop sharing sponsor data with ICE.

    Some believe that the greatness of a nation is determined by how it treats its children. By this measure, the United States is failing.

    There are still more than 14,000 immigrant children in DHS custody, and instead of placing them with willing sponsors, the Office of Refugee Resettlement is making sure many of them stay behind bars. Over the summer, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen enacted a data-sharing agreement that weaponized ORR.1

    ORR now shares the biometric and background check data of any person who applies to sponsor a child with ICE, preventing many family members from stepping forward for fear of being hunted down and detained by Trump's deportation force. Sens. Gillibrand, Hirono, Booker, Merkley, Feinstein and Blumenthal are calling on Azar and Nielsen to end this cruel policy. Add your name now to help turn up the pressure.

    Tell Alex Azar and Kirstjen Nielsen: Let the children go. Stop sharing sponsor data with ICE.

    At the height of the family separation crisis over the summer, Azar enacted an ORR policy that forced potential immigrant sponsors and everyone in their household to go through an extreme vetting process and then shared the data it collected with ICE. As a result, ORR is now an extension of Trump's deportation force. Thousands of refugee children locked up in inhumane detention facilities are serving longer sentences because many people are too afraid to sponsor them.

    The average stay in detention for unaccompanied minors increased from 40 days in 2016 to 59 days in 2018.2 The total number of children DHS and ORR are detaining at once is at an all-time high.3

    The effects of detention on children are devastating. The trauma of being ripped from family members and forced to live in overcrowded camps and prisons can have debilitating lifelong effects on a child's health and well-being.

    HHS says its focus is the health, safety and best interest of the child. Yet, the nation watched in horror as thousands of children suffered in isolation and inhumane conditions in the tent camps of Tornillo, Texas, without adequate access to legal services. ORR recently announced a minor change to its vetting policy, eliminating the requirement that household members of sponsors be fully vetted before a child is reunited with a parent or loved one.4 That is not enough. As long as ICE remains at the center of ORR’s reunification process, children will be in harm’s way.

    Add your name now to help us and our friends at the National Immigrant Justice Center shine a bright light on the dangerous collaboration between ORR and ICE, and demand that Azar and Nielsen end it now.

    Tell Alex Azar and Kirstjen Nielsen: Let the children go. Stop sharing sponsor data with ICE.

    Thanks for standing up for immigrant children.

    References:

    1. Victoria Bekiempis, "Refugee agency accused of helping deport relatives of migrant children," The Guardian, Nov. 28, 2018.
    2. Colleen Long, "The Trump Administration Reverses Its Policy on Migrant Children's Sponsors," TIME, Dec. 19, 2018.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Miriam Jordan, "Thousands of Migrant Children Could Be Released After Sponsor Policy Change," The New York Times, Dec. 18, 2018.