Spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, Ravina Shamdasani, scolded the US in a statement today saying that the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents as they are detained by border agents should halt immediately. “Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.” Shamdasani told a U.N. briefing Tuesday that the practice of separating families amounted to an “arbitrary and unlawful” interference in family life, calling it a “serious violation” of the rights of children. According to the Florence Project, an Arizona nonprofit organization that provides legal and social services to detained immigrants, there have been more than 200 cases of parents being separated from their children since the beginning of the year in that state alone.
This statement from the UN follows a similar letter written in February, where 71 Democratic lawmakers signed a memo to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, calling the policy “immoral” and “deeply disturbing” along with language stating the policy “suggests a lack of understanding about the violence many families are fleeing in their home countries.”
In related news, officials say that around 1,500 “Unaccompanied Alien Children” who arrived at the border last year are currently unaccounted for, according to figures first reported by the New York Times and the Associated Press last month. This is likely due to the immigration status of UAC sponsors, who are often families in the US who do not wish to be contacted by the government for any number of reasons.