The humanitarian organization Plan International said today that there are no guarantees of respect for the human rights of the families affected by the policy of separating immigrant children from their undocumented parents on the US border, a policy that was abolished by President Donald Trump.
"The executive order that ends the separation of families is a step forward, but we believe that we still have no guarantee that the human rights of children and their families will be respected," said Thursday Emma Puig, Head of Gender Transformative Programming and Influencing.
Trump yielded to national and international pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order to stop his controversial policy of separating immigrant children from their parents when they are detained on the border with Mexico.
At least 2,342 immigrant children have been separated from their parents between May 5 and June 9, according to US authorities.
Instead of being separated from their parents when crossing the border, as it has been since April, from now on undocumented children will be detained indefinitely with their families in immigration detention centers, according to the order signed Wednesday by Trump.
"The US Administration has stated that it continues to be 'zero tolerant' with the flow of migrants who are on the border, and we believe that we still have no guarantee that families will not continue to be criminalized for exercising their right to migrate," said the representative of Plan, which has its regional headquarters in Panama.
Puig said that children and their relatives are very affected by the situation, and believes it will have an impact on their mental health.
"Children have witnessed violence and experienced emotional stress, and once they are on the border, they do not receive adequate support with a protection mechanism that guarantees their human rights. Instead, they are criminalizing it," she said.
In a statement issued on June 19, Plan reported that more than 2,000 families have been forcibly separated in the last six weeks; being held by US authorities in tents and in other deplorable conditions.
The agency, which asked the US government to reverse its "zero tolerance" migration policy and put an end to the practice of forced separation of families and the detention of children on the border, will be watching along with other partner organizations to ensure that the executive order is respected.
"Plan International together with other organizations and civil society in the framework of the global movement for children, will remain vigilant at the border and expressing discontent with the violation of the rights of children," said Puig.
She added that the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) are carrying out a support and prevention work for forced displacement of children, as well as for those who have returned to guarantee their protection upon arrival in their country.
"States must guarantee children’s protection according to Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that they cannot be separated from their parents against their will (...) what we show is that the United States has not ratified this Convention," said the head of Plan.
The controversial family separations began in April as a result of the "zero-tolerance" policy, promoted by attorney general Jeff Sessions to combat irregular immigration.
This policy leads to the filing of criminal charges against any adult who crosses the border illegally, and the beginning of this criminal proceeding led to separate them from the children with whom they had traveled.
Raquel Sánchez / EFE