In recent months, fear of separation has been greatly heightened among undocumented immigrant families. A resolution was introduced in support of opposing separation of undocumented children and parents, asking the federal government to implement policies that will secure family unity.
"I'm so proud to be here today as a resident in Pct. 4 to speak on this resolution sponsored by Commissioner Joseph Palacios," said Proyecto Azteca Executive Director Ann Williams Cass.
Palacios said he empathizes with the plight of immigrants.
"We are filled with individuals who migrated to this area," said Palacios.
The United States is a country of immigrants and the Federal Government has failed to grasp the importance of immigration for our country and, since April of 2018, has implemented a “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of countless parents and children.
"We know the separation itself is traumatic on the children and parents, and causes not only physical damage, but permanent mental, emotional, and spiritual damage," said Cass. "We are doing it on purpose to punish them for seeking safety."
The Federal Government’s policy of separating undocumented children and parents contradicts the core values of the United States, read the resolution.
District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. said the United States government should not separate children from their parents, adding that while he doesn't agree with the practice, he understands first-hand that the law of the land must be followed.
"The government should not use the children as scapegoats," Rodriguez said. "However, I believe we are in a position where we can make a difference."
The separation policy has resulted in at least 1,475 undocumented children who cannot be accounted for by the federal government. Undocumented children that are separated from their family are particularly vulnerable to crime, exploitation, and prostitution.
"This is a very complex issue and we're in a position where we can make a difference," said Palacios. "We need to roll up our sleeves and find better answers to this issue and lead with example."
Evidence suggests that immigration deterrence policies involving separation of families do not stop illegal immigration.
"The American Civil Liberties Union reports over 1,000 children separated over the last five weeks," said Cass. "I would like to set up a County task force to brainstorm on how we can stop this practice."