Washington, DC – Today, nearly 340 faith leaders and people of faith, and 114 faith organizations—including 12 member organizations of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition—delivered a letter to Congress urging them to do more to reverse the harms caused by family separation. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separated over 5,500 migrant children from their parents at the U.S. southern border from 2017 to 2018. While many families have been reunited, they have not been provided the support they need to heal from the devastating trauma caused by prolonged family separation.

The signatories write:

“The current administration’s Family Reunification Task Force has been working to reunite families and has begun to make some progress with over 260 children reunited with their parents. But families who have been reunited have been offered limited and inadequate access to the support they need to heal from the trauma of family separation and rebuild their lives in the U.S.

Many families have been reunited by paroling the parent into the United States, a decision grounded in swiftness to facilitate reunifications. However, families who were reunified through the use of humanitarian parole are ineligible for family support services, basic case management, or sustained mental health care administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Task Force provides no assurances that families are reunited into safe and stable settings, exacerbating the enormous challenge of rebuilding a family home that has been torn apart.

We urge Congress to authorize and fund the support and stability these families need to heal. In its Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding bill, congressional appropriators should ensure that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has the statutory authority to use funds at its disposal and additional funds to provide basic services — including behavioral health, legal counsel, family case management, and mental health care services — to families who were separated, particularly those here under parole.

The administration should further make use of existing FY 2022 funding and authorities to better serve these families and ensure they are provided the care they need to heal and thrive.”

Driven by their faith traditions to uphold and protect the “sanctity of family,” the 452 organizations and individuals close the letter stressing that reunification is only the beginning: “Now, we urge Congress and the administration to do more to heal those harmed by family separation. Without additional services, many families cannot and will not be successfully reunited.”

Read the complete letter and list of signatories here.

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of over 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. Follow us on Twitter @interfaithimm

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