Press Telebriefing: Immigrant and refugee children and families are not “loopholes”

January 30, 2018


Washington, DC — In a press telebriefing this morning, immigration advocates explained how the Trump Administration and certain Members of Congress are again taking cruel aim at immigrant children and families in its bid to reach its anti-immigrant policy goals.

“The Dreamers, CHIP recipients, unaccompanied children, families—the Trump Administration is continually targeting the most vulnerable among us in a cynical, punishing strategy that plays politics with children’s lives,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “The so-called loopholes touted by the Administration and anti-immigrant Members of Congress are in fact forms of protection that ensure we do not return unaccompanied children and families to grave danger. Targeting those in the greatest need shows weakness rather than strength and is no way to lead the United States,” Young said.

The White House framework reportedly would treat all unaccompanied children as we currently do children from Mexico—that is, return them quickly to their home countries with only a cursory screening of whether they are victims of trafficking or potentially eligible for U.S. protection due to harm they may face in their home country. It would also decimate the U.S. asylum system.

“The White House’s list of demands, if enacted into law, would block access to refugee protection in the United States, penalize asylum seekers, send children and other vulnerable asylum seekers back to danger, severely damage the integrity of the U.S. asylum system, and undermine U.S. global leadership and interests,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director, Refugee Protection, Human Rights First. “Instead of falsely describing access to asylum assessments as a “loophole,” the Trump administration and Congress should remove the many unnecessary barriers that are already blocking access to protection and causing the United States to turn away, punish or deny protection to the persecuted.”

The Administration is also reportedly very close to signing off on a policy to separate all families, including parents from their children, regardless of the age, at the border.

“No deal on immigration should trade the lives of one group of vulnerable individuals for another,” said Katharina Obser, Senior Policy Advisor, Women’s Refugee Commission. “Since President Trump took office, he and his administration have waged a continual attack on immigrant and asylum-seeking women, children, and families.  From proposed policies to intentionally separate families seeking protection at the border, to last week’s framework that continues to suggest that women and children seeking protection are exploiting so-called “loopholes,” it is clear that the administration will continue to try to gut protections for those fleeing humanitarian crises and seeking safety at our borders.  We cannot let the urgency of ensuring that Dreamers are protected result in the gutting of protections for so many others.”

Meanwhile, the Administration is not addressing the root cause of children and families’ flight from Central America. “The result of removing protections from unaccompanied children will not be that they remain in dangerous situations, but that they will rely more on smugglers and attempt to evade the Border Patrol, rather than asking for their help,” said Kevin Appleby, Senior Director of International Migration Policy, Center for Migration Studies.  “They will risk their lives to join their families rather than risk harm or death in their countries.  The forces driving them are stronger than any barriers the Trump Administration can erect.”


Media Contact: Megan McKenna,, 202-631-9990

Listen to a recording of the press call here: