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EMERGENCY RESOLUTION: End the Separation of Migrant Families and Reject the Detention of Children and Families


Sponsored by: Rep. César Chávez (AZ) and Rep. Roberto Alonzo (TX)

WHEREAS, no civilized democracy should ever separate children from their parents’ embrace for petty misdemeanors; much less for merely trying to seek asylum, nor would it question refugees’ lack of documentary formalities to prove the relationship between a parent or legal guardian and their child; and,

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration’s inhumane so-called ‘zero tolerance’ border policy has cost the United States a sharp increase of family separation at our border; and,

WHEREAS, the policy has drawn strong bipartisan condemnation at all levels, including from all living former First Ladies; and,

WHEREAS, many human rights groups have accused border officials of illegally refusing to accept asylum-seekers trying to present themselves at border entry points thus forcing them to turn back; and,

WHEREAS, as a result of this, many asylum-seekers are entering the country through other areas – not border entry points – and presenting themselves to border patrol agents in the hopes that they will be granted asylum; and,

WHEREAS, they are then arrested for illegal entry and separated from their children; and,

WHEREAS, therefore, the under the policy, the United States has treated asylum seekers that enter the country through any border that is not a port of entry as if they were hardened criminals instead of as immigrants fleeing persecution or violence; and,

WHEREAS, numerous human rights organizations and the United Nations, have argued that prosecuting asylum seekers criminally, violates international law; and,

WHEREAS, many of these immigrants are fleeing gang violence from MS-13, a gang founded in California and exported from the United States to Central America; and,

WHEREAS, the United States openly acknowledges the existence of and the dangers posed by MS-13 and often executes wide-scale raids against known or suspected gang members ; and,

WHEREAS, MS-13 is estimated to number more than 10,000 in the United States and around 30,000 members internationally ; and,

WHEREAS, MS-13 is strongest in the “Northern Triangle” of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala which are the countries with the highest rate of United States asylum seekers; and,

WHEREAS, the number of asylum seekers worldwide originating from the Northern Triangle reached 110,000 in 2015 and migrants from all three countries cite violence, forced gang recruitment, and extortion as well as poverty and lack of opportunity as their reasons for leaving ; and,

WHEREAS, El Salvador became the world’s most violent country not at war in 2015, when gang-related violence brought its homicide rate to 103 per hundred thousand ; and,

WHEREAS, a Congressional Research Service report estimated that in 2012, MS-13 had about 24,000 members in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and M-18 had about 30,000 members in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador ; and,

WHEREAS, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have among the highest homicide rates in the world and among the highest rates of femicide (killing of women) in the world ; and,

WHEREAS, El Salvador and Guatemala also have the highest proportion of homicide victims under the age of 20 ; and,

WHEREAS, according to an Amnesty International report, there were 264 confirmed murders of LGBTQ people in Honduras between 2009 and July 2017 and during February 2017, three trans women were murdered within a 72-hour period with a fourth brutally attacked days later ; and,

WHEREAS, the nongovernmental organization Transgender Europe reported that 40 trans people were murdered in Guatemala during 2016 ; and,

WHEREAS, 471 women were killed in 2015 in Honduras as a result of domestic violence, in El Salvador there have been nearly 1,100 cases of domestic violence and over 2,600 cases of sexual violence in 2016, and in Guatemala there were over 50,000 cases of violence against women in 2013, of which only 983 culminated in a prison sentence for the aggressor ; and,

WHEREAS, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that “the concept of persecution by non-state actors is ‘inherent’ in the definitions of persecution in the 1951 Convention and Refugee Act of 1980 and there a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision as well as a precedential BIA opinion suggest that persecution by non-state actors is cognizable as a predicate for relief ; and,

WHEREAS, the migrants are fleeing threats of murder in countries with some of the highest murder rates in the world, domestic violence in countries with some of the highest domestic violence rates in the world, and persecution in countries with some of the worst rates of LGBTQ persecution in the world; and,

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration threatened to end foreign assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and requested a 36 percent cut in foreign assistance funds to Latin America and the Caribbean which seek to improve those countries so as to avoid the necessity of asylum and stop immigration before it reaches United States borders ; and,

WHEREAS, asylum seekers are being turned away from ports of entry due to what Customs and Border Protection calls limited capacity and resources and are choosing to cross the border at other locations; and,

WHEREAS, in the fiscal year ending in September 2016, before the Trump administration, the government received around 94,000 credible fear asylum requests and 24,500 of those were presented at ports of entry and in the following year, during the Trump administration, the number dropped to about 78,600 with 24,400 of them presented at ports of entry ; and,

WHEREAS, there were many more asylum requests in the prior administration and the same number of requests made at ports of entry, it is unlikely that capacity is actually an issue; and,

WHEREAS, after the asylum seekers have been arrested, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) separates the children from the parents; and,

WHEREAS, in any non-abusive situation, the separation of children from their parents and/or their siblings is inhumane and reprehensible; and,

WHEREAS, the further imprisonment of forcefully separated children, including some in harrowing conditions, is inhumane and will do lasting damage to those children; and,

WHEREAS, in many of these situations, the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Department of Homeland Security is sending the children up to 2,000 miles away from their parents to New York and Florida; and,

WHEREAS, U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw of San Diego wrote that there has been a “casual, if not deliberate, separation of families that lawfully present at the port of entry, not just those who cross into the country illegally” ; and,

WHEREAS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that only 7 families out of 5,298 who presented themselves at legal international checkpoints from May to June were separated ; and,

WHEREAS, many news outlets including the LA Times have reported on a number of cases since 2017 where families were separated after asking for asylum at a port of entry, some of which occurred in the days after the families presented themselves at the border and may not have been counted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection ; and,

WHEREAS, in response to the widespread outcry against these sets of policies, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order calling for a modification of the settlement in the case of Flores v. INS (Flores Settlement) which guarantees the basic rights of children in immigration custody; and,

WHEREAS, specifically, President Trump is seeking to end forceful family separation by replacing it with the equally disturbing and inhumane policy of incarcerating the children with the parents; and,

WHEREAS, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators has long been in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, with a pathway to citizenship, and passed many resolutions on the issue.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators strongly disagrees with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who ruled that “claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-government actors will not qualify for asylum;” and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators believes that when you are a citizen of a country where the government cannot protect you from entrenched private violence from gangs or cartels, leaving the country and seeking asylum is the only alternative; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators adopts the position that the child protection or benefit guarantees of the Flores Settlement should not be relaxed or diminished; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators condemns the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and particularly the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the President of the United States for the cruel and inhumane policies of separating families and of denying asylum to people who are truly fleeing credible fear of harm or death in their home countries; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators urges Congress, the Attorney General, and the President of the United States to act with no further delay to end these inhumane practices and reunite parents with their children and grant asylum to those who truly need it; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this Resolution be sent to the President of the United States, the Leadership of both Houses of Congress and any other Official, stakeholder or interested party.


  1. All four living former first ladies condemn Trump border policy, NBC NEWS, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/laura-bush-separating-families-border-cruel-immoral-n884136 (last visited Jul 3, 2018).
  2. A. B. C. News, TRUMP ADDRESSES “MENACE” OF MS-13 AT LONG ISLAND ROUNDTABLE ABC NEWS (2018), https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-addresses-menace-ms-13-long-island-roundtable/story?id=55380008 (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  3. Id.
  4. Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/central-americas-violent-northern-triangle (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  5. Id.
  6. U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean: A Threat Assessment, September 2012.
  7. Small Arms Survey, Femicide: A Global Problem, Research Note 14, February 2012.
  8. U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Hidden in Plain Sight: a Statistical Analysis of Violence Against Children, September 2014.
  9. Trump Policies Will Send LGBT Asylum Seekers to Their Deaths, (2018), https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2018/7/09/trump-policies-will-send-lgbt-asylum-seekers-their-deaths (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  10. Id.
  11. wola, CHILDREN AND FAMILIES FLEEING VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL AMERICA WOLA, https://www.wola.org/analysis/people-leaving-central-americas-northern-triangle/ (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  12. Bringas-Rodriguez v. Sessions, 850 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2017) (en banc).
  13. See Rosa v. INS, 440 F.2d 100, 102 (1st Cir. 1971); Matter of Eusaph, 10 I. & N. Dec. 453, 454 (BIA 1964).
  14. U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justifications for Foreign Operations, FY2015-FY2019, at http://www.state.gov/f/release/iab/index.htm.
  15. The Trump Administration Is Not Keeping Its Promises to Asylum Seekers Who Come to Ports of Entry, PULITZER CENTER (2018), http://www.pulitzercenter.org/reporting/trump-administration-not-keeping-its-promises-asylum-seekers-who-come-ports-entry (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  16. Jazmine Ulloa Esquivel Paloma, BORDER PATROL SAYS ONLY SEVEN FAMILIES WERE SEPARATED AT PORTS OF ENTRY FROM MAY TO JUNE LATIMES.COM, /politics/la-na-pol-essential-washington-updates-border-patrol-says-only-seven-families-1531151865-htmlstory.html (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  17. Id.
  18. Jazmine Ulloa Esquivel Paloma, BORDER PATROL SAYS ONLY SEVEN FAMILIES WERE SEPARATED AT PORTS OF ENTRY FROM MAY TO JUNE LATIMES.COM, /politics/la-na-pol-essential-washington-updates-border-patrol-says-only-seven-families-1531151865-htmlstory.html (last visited Jul 9, 2018).
  19. Katie Benner & Caitlin Dickerson, Sessions Says Domestic and Gang Violence Are Not Grounds for Asylum, THE NEW YORK TIMES, June 12, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/us/politics/sessions-domestic-violence-asylum.html (last visited Jul 10, 2018).