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In the past, we have used the words “unfair” and “inefficient” to describe the Trump administration’s US immigration policies, but the recent order to separate nearly 2,000 immigrant children from their parents now delves deep into the realm of cruel, malicious, and inhumane. The American Anthropological Association (AAA) resolutely rejects the decision to hold children hostage as an outright mean-spirited political ploy that will have repercussions well into the future on both sides of the border.
“Intentionally targeting people who are most vulnerable and helpless is unconscionable,” said AAA President Alex W. Barker. “Anthropological research, like research by all allied disciplines, shows how such actions can cause lasting intergenerational harm.”
The administration’s decision is being widely criticized and deservedly so. While there have been a number of ineffective, and some might argue insensitive, decisions made regarding immigration, this is one of the most callous policies the administration has instituted. Their argument that US laws or court rulings are forcing them to separate families caught trying to cross the southern border is false, plain and simple. Immigrant families are being separated primarily because the Administration implemented its “zero-tolerance policy” and began to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible.
Anthropological scholarship sheds light on many of the issues central to comprehensive immigration reform and extensively documents the value of family unification. Based on our scholarly expertise and the lived experience of both anthropologists and the communities with whom they live and work, the AAA recently offered its Principles For Equitable and Effective Immigration Policy Reform in the US, which includes “adequate and consistent protections for the integrity of families and family groups throughout the immigration process,” and a “sensitivity to the human costs of displacement and the division of families.”
It is not fair to have the fate of children leveraged as part of a failing immigration policy. The AAA insists the administration put an end to this cynical political ploy and that this draconian policy be dropped immediately and without exception.
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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.