Judge Barrett wouldn’t say if it was wrong to separate children — we will

Children of Immigrants

This week, the nomination hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett have been noteworthy only perhaps for how un-noteworthy they’ve been — with Judge Barrett declining to answer most questions pertaining to the law or precedent. But, there was at least one question that has captured the attention of the country — even though it, too, featured Judge Barrett refusing to answer.

Yesterday afternoon, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) asked if the judge believes “it’s wrong to separate children from their parents to deter immigrants from coming to the U.S.”

Watch the full exchange below:

Judge Barrett did not answer the question, stating — as many Supreme Court nominees have in the past — that the issue was a matter of debate and that she “can’t express a view or be drawn into as a judge.”

But, we believe the answer is clear — yes, yes it is wrong to separate children from their parents as a method of deterrence.

We’ve been clear on this issue, dating back to at least 2009 when First Focus President Bruce Lesley said:

As a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, we see the ramifications of our broken immigration system every day. Family separation is detrimental to both the physical and mental health of any child. And children of immigrants comprise one-fifth of all U.S. children and are the fastest growing child population in this country. Therefore, it is paramount that our nation, founded by immigrants, enacts reforms to immigration laws that promote family unity.

Sadly, we were echoing these same sentiments over the last week when a New York Times investigation found that the Trump Administration “intentionally implemented a plan to separate children from their parents” and in comments to the Department of Homeland Security. It has been clear to us — and the entire children’s community — that this policy is cruel and, as we said back in June of 2018, it amounts to child abuse.

With dire urgency, the administration’s anti-immigrant and anti-family policies must be rejected. In a democracy, we are all accountable for our government, which includes how we treat the most vulnerable among us. The Administration’s family separation policy directly harms children and amounts to child abuse. Anyone concerned about the tragedy of family separation and the harm it is doing to children should contact their elected officials and demand the end to this policy. Our country has to be better than this.

And, with all due respect to Judge Barrett, this has also been clear to those on the bench. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw found (in June of 2018) that the practice of separating minor children and parents is a violation of constitutional rights and “shocks the conscience.” Judge Sabraw went on to say:

These allegations sufficiently describe government conduct that arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child. Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.

If confirmed, a then-Justice Barrett may have this question before her again. Let’s hope it’s as clear to her then as it has been to all of us.