National WIC Association Condemns Family Separation, Detention of Children
Rev. Greenaway: “[T]his shameful episode is just one chapter in a broader assault on the dignity and humanity of immigrant families and their children.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Natalie Mulloy
WASHINGTON – On June 20, 2018, the White House issued an executive order addressing the Administration’s policy of detaining children separately from their families. Several children have been of “tender age,” with multiple reports of infants being separated from their mothers.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:
“WIC is a safe harbor for mothers, babies, and young children. The Administration’s family separation policy and actions undertaken along the southern border over the past several weeks fly in the face of everything that the WIC community stands for.
“The National WIC Association strongly condemns the separation of over two thousand children from the protective safety of their parents, as federal agents acting under orders from the White House and Attorney General dispatched the children to cages in cold and soulless detention centers, including government-built ‘tender age’ shelters to house infants seized from their mothers’ arms. The Administration’s policy was an offense to the values enshrined on the iconic Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’
“Let’s be clear: this was a conscious effort by the Administration to terrorize those seeking a safer life in the United States. Reports indicated harsh treatment by DHS officials, including the separation of a breastfed infant from his mother while in the act of nursing. This policy of family separation and forced division of parent and child has lifelong and irreparable psychological and developmental effects on children. Separated children and their parents will live with the consequences of the Administration’s reckless decision-making for decades.
“The President now purports to care for family unity, but his executive order only promises that more children will be detained. While families await adjudication of their immigration claims, previous administrations had chosen alternatives to detention that offered a fairer and safer environment. This is especially necessary in asylum cases, where families have escaped from unsafe conditions. By making detention the default choice for children, this executive order enshrines the Administration’s disregard for immigrant families and their welfare.
“We should not forget that this shameful episode is just one chapter in a broader assault on the dignity and humanity of immigrant families and their children. The inhumane treatment of people on the border echoes other severe enforcement actions undertaken in communities across the country. Due to this arbitrary and rapid escalation, mothers have expressed fear coming into WIC clinics, declined breastfeeding support, and sought to return WIC food benefits. When our neighbors fear heading to WIC clinics, school, or shopping in a grocery store, can we truly say that we are the land of the free?
“We call on the White House to reject the impulse to brutality and instead adopt a humane immigration policy that recognizes the hopes and humanity of families seeking refuge in the United States.”
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