CATHEDRAL CITY – The Coachella Valley is hurting and suffering as the dehumanization of Latin Americans intensifies, said Amalia DeAztlan, one of a half-dozen Coachella Valley leaders who on Friday demanded family integrity at the border – and everywhere.
“First, we were called rapists, criminals and animals and now our children are put in cages,” she said. “This dehumanization is hurting our Latin American families,” DeAztlan said. “This is not a normal situation. We will fight. Millions and millions and millions will not stand for this.
In a symbolic move, the leaders gathered at the Fountain of Life in Cathedral City, the Coachella Valley’s first sanctuary city. Leaders included clergy, activists, attorneys, and an ACLU representative. In DeAztlan was flanked by Megan Beaman-Jacinto, the Rev. Father Howard Lincoln, Josie Diaz, Lynne O’Neill, Luis Nolaso and the Rev. Carl McPeters.
Their stand was in support of immigrant families against the inhumanity of forces separation of children of a practice newly and recently implemented by the Department of Homeland Security as part of its border enforcement routine.
“Family integrity – the relationship between parents and children – must be respected and preserved no matter the circumstances,” said Beaman-Jacinto, an attorney.
Family separation results in and often irreparable psychological harm to children. Even the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Committee on Family and Residential Center concluded that “the separation of families for purposes of immigration enforcement or management detention is never in the bests interests of children.” Health and child welfare professional from around the country and world have urged against this imposition of unnecessary trauma to children.
Moreover, family separation is illegal under international law and the United States Constitution, according to Beaman-Jacinto. The United Nations has declared this practice to be “arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life,” in serious violation of children’s rights under international human rights law. The United States Constitution provides a right to family integrity and the relationship between parent and child in the Fifth Amendment liberty interest.
“Yet, the practice of forced family separation continues,” Beaman-Jacinto said. “We must stand we will stand against this inhumanity. Immigrants, whether adults or children, are human beings entitled to dignity and humane treatment no matter their circumstances.”
The stand on Friday was the first in a two-part effort designed to address the atrocities. A valley-wide meeting is planned for some time in July.
“We need to make sure our elected leaders in the Valley speak up and voice their opposition,” DeAztlan said. “I go between anger and tears.”
Democratic U.S. Congressman and Dr. Raul Ruiz voiced his opposition via social media on Thursday.
“Separating young children from their parents is horrifying and inhumane, and goes against the very core of our values as Americans,” Ruiz said. “Many of these children are seeking asylum from unspeakable violence and this administration is adding to their suffering by imposing the extreme psychological trauma of being separated from their parents. This trauma will have severe long-term health consequences and puts many of these children at great risk of human trafficking. I am appalled by the Trump Administration’s policies and they must end. We have a responsibility to treat all children with respect, dignity, and humanity.”