6 Petitions To Protect Migrant Children Being Held At The Border

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Over the past several weeks, there has been a flurry of reports about the conditions migrant children being held at the southern U.S. border face. If you feel outraged by these reports and want to help, no matter where you live, one of the many ways you can be an advocate involves signing petitions to protect those migrant children. The petitions' specific goals differ slightly, but ultimately, they share the same mission.

A July 2 report released by investigators at the Department of Homeland Security said that adults and children at border detention facilities faced conditions that could pose an "immediate risk to their health and safety." The report noted that there was "dangerous overcrowding" at these centers and that migrants, including many children, were being held by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for far longer than the 72 hours allowed by law.

Moreover, a group of lawyers who visited a Clint, Texas detention center in late June reported that children being held there had limited access to soap, clean clothes, and food, the New York Times indicated. Elora Mukherjee, one of the lawyers who went to the Clint center, described the dire conditions she witnessed to CBS News. "It is degrading and inhumane and shouldn't be happening in America," Mukherjee told the outlet. "The children had not had access to a single shower or bath, they were wearing the same dirty clothing they crossed the border with."

However, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has claimed that the reports about poor conditions aren't totally accurate. “There’s adequate food and water … because I know what our standards are, and I know they’re being followed,” McAleenan said on ABC's The Week on July 7. " ... “Inadequate food, inadequate water and unclean cells. None of those have been substantiated."

Notably, hundreds of children were moved out of the Clint detention center the week of June 24, shortly after reports about the center's conditions came out, the New York Times noted.

Overall, if you want to take a stand and help advocate for children being detained at the U.S. border, signing these petitions are a strong starting point.

Stop The Government From Abusing Children

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)'s petition is addressed to McAleenan and demands that the U.S. government stop engaging in abusive behavior toward migrant children.

"Stop subjecting children in your custody to physical, sexual, and verbal abuse," the petition requests. "Hold the responsible agents accountable and make it impossible for any future abuse to occur."

Customs and Border Protection has strongly denied that its officials have abused migrant children. In response to a May 2018 ACLU report detailing these allegations, the agency issued a lengthy statement denying them. The statement read, in part:

Close The Camps

This petition calls on the Trump administration to close children's detention centers. "The treatment of these children is draconian, callous, inhumane, and corrupt. Their lives are not something to be negotiated or compromised," the petition reads. "Sign on to demand the Trump Administration put an end to family separations and their inhumane treatment of children."

The petition is available at the Progressive Majority Political Action Committee (PAC)'s website and is sponsored by this PAC, along with many Democratic candidates' campaigns.

Not In Our Name

This petition asks that Americans tell Congress and the president that they will not tolerate inhumane detention facilities.

"Every day we learn more outrageous details about children and families being kept in inhumane conditions while millions in taxpayer dollars are being paid to shady contractors who are supposed to care for these families," the petition reads. " ... We must be the voice for the most vulnerable among us."

The petition is sponsored by PAC For A Change, a political action committee focused on defeating Republicans in 2020.

Stop The Abuse & Neglect

This petition from Sojourners, an organization committed to promoting "faith in action for social justice" has three specific asks. It requests that the policy of separating children from their families is ended, that any delays that inhibit children from being united with their families are eliminated, and that any children who are in custody experience "safe and sanitary conditions that would be afforded to any child outside detention." The petition is addressed to Acting Secretary McAleenan.

Stop The Inhumane Treatment Of Children

A petition from New Zealand's branch of Amnesty International specifically calls on Scott Brown, the United States Ambassador to New Zealand, to demand that the U.S. government "launch an investigation into the treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers being held in dangerous holding facilities."

The petition asserts that this investigation is essential because these facilities "endanger lives and dehumanise people in search of safety."

Stop Separating Children

This petition, sponsored by Children's Rights, an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children, demands that the Trump administration end its policy of separating children and families. While the petition appears to have been started at least a year ago, it is still highly active.

“Needlessly ripping kids, toddlers, babies away from their parents is inhumane, barbaric and unconstitutional. An Administration that purports to uphold family values is callously inflicting devastating trauma on children and families in service of its punitive immigration policies,” Sandy Santana, the executive director of Children’s Rights, said in a statement, per the petition's web page.

Notably, while President Trump issued an executive order on June 20, 2018 ending the policy of separating migrant children from their parents, the practice is still occurring to some extent. According to the New York Times, hundreds of families have reportedly been separated since Trump's order was issued — and border officials have authorized the separations due to an exception in the law.

The outlet noted that this exception says that families can still be separated if a parent is considered a danger to a child, has a substantial criminal record, or is sick when they arrive at the border. The ACLU told NBC News that it believes the U.S. government is using this exception excessively and separating far too many families.

The Children's Rights' petition is available on Change.org

Signing these petitions is an easy way for you to take a stand to protect the interests of migrant children. The sooner you sign, the more quickly these petitions will gather signatures — and hopefully make a strong impact on the officials receiving them.