Kids in Need of Defense Condemns Recent Family Separation at U.S. Government Facility in Donna, Texas, and Recommends Measures to Ensure Children’s Wellbeing

September 19, 2023

Washington, D.C.

In response to news that U.S. Border Patrol agents separated migrant children from their parents for several days this summer at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in Donna, Texas, to avoid overcrowding, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a nonprofit dedicated to the safety and protection of migrant children, raises concern over the psychological wellbeing of these children and recommends the Biden Administration take vital steps toward ensuring all children’s wellbeing at the U.S. southern border.

 

Jennifer Podkul, KIND’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, released the following statement:

“Kids in Need of Defense strongly condemns the practice of separating migrant children from their parents. KIND has seen first hand, through years of serving children needlessly separated from their parents, the devastating physiological impacts of family separation. We recommend the Biden administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection take the following steps to ensure the physical and mental health of children arriving at the U.S. border.

  • As the Juvenile Care Monitor’s report from the recent Flores case recommends, CBP should terminate its practice of separating children under age 16 from their parents while in CBP custody. CBP must prioritize family unity during the period of time children are in their custody.
  • CBP should follow the recommendation of the Flores monitor, and immediately hire licensed child welfare professionals  to provide trauma-informed care and provide a child-friendly environment for children while in CBP custody.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) should co-locate child welfare staff in CBP border facilities to immediately begin the process of family reunification for children who have been separated from their parents or are traveling alone. ORR professionals can also ensure the best interests of the child when releasing them to a parent, guardian, or other sponsor.”

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To speak with Jennifer Podkul or other KIND experts, please contact Hannah Gavin at kind@westendstrategy.com or 202-765-4290.