Keep Stelco Producing! Steel Not Steal!
More Fishy Business at Stelco
The Ontario Superior Court and provincial government have handed ownership and control of Stelco's original 3,060 acres of industrial land to the current U.S. owners and operators of Stelco steelmaking. The vast industrial land includes steelmaking and port facilities in Hamilton on Lake Ontario and Nanticoke on Lake Erie. Landco, a creation last summer of the Ontario government and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), was holding the entire land in trust for environmental remediation and sale of any portion not required for steelmaking. Proceeds from selling the land minus the amount for environmental remediation were destined to go to Stelco retirees. Their pensions and benefits are currently underfunded. The anti-worker CCAA process severed most new value Stelco workers produce from funding pension benefits. Also, during U.S. Steel's tenure in control of Stelco, the existing defined-benefit plan was closed to new hires who were also denied eligibility for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEBs).
While Stelco was under CCAA, a U.S. company called
seized control of the steelmaking and shipping facilities. The
CCAA process liquidated most debt considered unsecured and
channeled almost all available cash to U.S. Steel. Another major
issue in exiting CCAA was the release of the past and current
owners from any responsibility for environmental remediation of
Stelco's historical industrial land. Bedrock became a tenant
paying Landco $15 million per year in rent for the use of
whatever land it required for steelmaking and shipping. Bedrock
also promised to pay a certain amount into the defined-benefit
pension funds and OPEBs.
Now, in a surprise move less than one year out of CCAA, Bedrock has seized ownership and control of the land from Landco, except for three small parcels totalling 37 acres. The secret sale was even a surprise to the Hamilton Municipal government, which had hoped to have a say in the land's redevelopment. Ontario Superior Court Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel, who presided over the Stelco CCAA hearings, approved the sale and the Amended OPEB Funding Agreement, with the apparent blessing of the outgoing Ontario Liberal government.
Bedrock/Stelco now gains ownership and control of both steelmaking and the land but will still not be responsible for its environmental remediation. Apparently, if Bedrock now flips the entire Stelco operation or develops or sells off the land piecemeal, neither seller nor buyer are responsible to clean up the historical industrial pollution. Who is responsible and would pay for any cleanup was not spelled out in court or in a Bedrock/Stelco press release issued June 5.
Land Sale Consolidates U.S. Imperialist Control in the
from Bedrock/Stelco Press Release
Amended OPEB Funding Agreement and Mortgage Note Payments
annual funding of $26.4 million
Average annual funding of $33 million per annum
Average annual funding of $20.2 million (minimum) to $31.2 million (maximum) per annum
Average annual funding of $30 million per annum
annual lease rental payments of
Average annual funding of $15 million per annum
1. Assuming maximum free cash flow payments under
Original OPEB Funding Agreement.
After 25 years, all payments cease as the mortgage and CCAA agreement are extinguished and Bedrock gains full title to all the land and facilities without any additional social responsibilities for Stelco pensions, OPEBs and of course environmental remediation.
The sale agreement raises troubling issues for Canadians aside from the blatant pay-the-rich aspects. Essentially, control over the steel sector is not in the hands of Canadians. Its development and viability depend on the decisions of competing global private interests closely tied with U.S. imperialism. Two important ports on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are not even in the hands of Canadians. It could be said that Stelco steelmaking and the two ports are subject to the national security concerns of the U.S. imperialists and part of their plans for security corridors deep into Canada for transporting goods under all conditions including war.
Within this situation of no control, what possibilities exist to build a self-reliant steel sector that meets apparent demand within Canada without disruption, as a part of a nation-building project serving the public interest and well-being of Canadians? Stelco steelworkers know from two bouts within CCAA and the bitter experience of control under U.S. Steel and the brutal German imperialist lockout of Stelco steelworkers at MANA, that security without actual control of the working people is a pipedream. The situation demands organization of the working people to fight for a nation-building project of their own making with their own outlook, aim and direction that vests sovereignty in the people and guarantees their well-being.
The Ontario Superior Court has handed over Stelco's industrial land to a U.S. company called Bedrock. The land stretches from Hamilton to Nanticoke, from a port on Lake Ontario to another one on Lake Erie. Many suspect that the U.S. owners have plans to use their control to integrate Canada more deeply with the U.S., building a trade, security, communications and transportation corridor stretching from lake to lake. Bedrock/Stelco recently reconfigured its Lake Erie Port for increased use of trains and possible introduction of driverless trucks. Secure corridors with dedicated tracks and roads using trains and driverless trucks are aspects of the federal government's plans to integrate Canada even further with global private interests.
Bedrock CEO Alan Kestenbaum from New York is quoted in the media saying he wants to diversify his transportation network to be less reliant on trucks. Kestenbaum spouted the standard line of a so-called shortage of truck drivers across the continent and other factors forcing companies to rely more on ships, rail, and driverless trucks with dedicated routes for security.
To assist these schemes, billions of dollars in federal pay-the-rich money are available from Transport Canada under the Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative. Ports and dedicated routes are prime targets for money from the National Trade Corridors Fund. A Trudeau government press release on July 4, 2017 says the Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative is meant "to strengthen Canada's trade infrastructure, including ports, waterways, airports, roads, bridges, border crossings, rail networks and the interconnectivity between them."
Under imperialist globalization, powerful private interests compete for international trade. They target countries for specific roles such as cheap manufacturing workers, sources of raw material or zones of continuous war to test and sell weapons and engage private mercenary armies to keep the world within a warlike atmosphere of constant insecurity. In this situation, international trade is not a factor for all-sided and mutual development for all peoples but rather a front of violent competition among global private interests.
Trudeau and other governments since Mulroney have embroiled Canada into a worldwide array of military and economic arrangements including trade and transport corridors serving the global private oligopolies operating within the imperialist system of states controlled by competing private oligopolies and their respective state representatives.
The oligarchs demand unbridled power without rules or regulations, to do what they want to serve their private interests without restrictions from public authorities of any stripe. Having dedicated corridors of continental integration under their control throughout North America strengthens the power and control of the oligarchs and negates the people's rights.
Stelco's extensive land stretching from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie is yet again under the control of private interests from the United States. The U.S. owners grouped within an investment cartel called Bedrock announced unspecified plans for the Stelco land in a June 5 press release saying, "The Land acquisition provides Stelco with the flexibility to utilize the Lands for its existing operations and allows Stelco to develop the Lands in a manner that both complements our current and future operations and pursue other uses for the Lands."
Many others in the Hamilton region including the City Council and Mayor appeared flummoxed with the sudden announcement of the land going to Bedrock. They wanted a say in the land's redevelopment but have been sidelined with the Ontario Court's decision to hand ownership and control of over 3,000 acres to Bedrock and its CEO Kestenbaum. The Mayor seemed dumbstruck with the secret deal and could only say that Kestenbaum now has the fate of the land in his hands but he hopes to meet with him soon to raise certain issues the City is keen to pursue. So much for public authority in the face of the power of the global oligarchs.
But what gives Bedrock CEO Kestenbaum from New York City the right to dictate to Canadians the direction of our economy? The broad answer is property right accorded under civil society. Property right trumps human rights. And property right within a globalized economy of gigantic oligopolies has degenerated into striving for world hegemony and negation of the rights of all amidst an increasingly dangerous and violent international competition for control.
Civil society is exhausted and incapable of dealing with property right in this era of imperialism and the domination of global competing private interests. Something new is required to avoid the calamity of a world collapsing under the blows of powerful and unrestrained competing private interests.
This leads to a discussion on how to exercise public control of the modern economy of socialized industrial mass production and what political system could be its expression. Civil society and its governance and control based on property right has run its course, something new is required. The modern socialized economy requires a human society where rights are recognized and guaranteed, where ownership of social property either held privately or by the state cannot negate human rights.
Civil society is incapable of establishing the New because its basis is property right. Property owned and controlled within the modern socialized system of industrial mass production has become gigantic and global. Property in the form of oligopolies has overwhelmed humans who have lost control and any public authority capable of restricting the property right of the oligarchs.
A civil society with reference points of control of the economy based on ownership and control of property, and control of government based on a multi-party system that serves the ownership and control of property cannot possibly be the form of the New or give rise to the New. Civil society and its forms of government, such as the state-organized and financed multi-party electoral system, block the people from governing themselves. The electoral political parties vying for control represent competing private interests and their property.
Human rights within civil society are subjected to limits that now the ruling oligarchs dictate. The competing ruling oligarchs and their competing electoral political parties do everything in their power to block the people from developing new reference points. New reference points that put human rights in the forefront can only come into being as a political project of the people. This political project upholds as an inviolable principle the recognition and guarantee of the rights people possess by virtue of being human.
The people organized in their collectives and empowered as individuals must bring into being as their reference point a new system of governance and relations amongst themselves based on the recognition and guarantee of their rights. The New must be based on the recognition and guarantee of the rights people have by virtue of being human, which ownership of social property either held privately or through the state cannot negate.
The rights of all are founded on the right to be. Those rights include the right to control those issues that affect us all beginning with the socialized economy on which all depend, and its political expression in new forms of governance. Those new forms of governance are found in democratic renewal where people have the right to elect their representatives and be elected without electoral political parties of the oligarchs and the state subverting and denying people their right to govern themselves.
The New entails a nation-building project in the geographic area of Canada where Canadian working people constitute themselves as the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. A modern nation-building project gives the working people the right to decide the direction of the economy, not the global oligarchs and their private interests founded on ownership and control of social property. A new direction for the economy becomes the economic foundation to guarantee the rights of all and their well-being. To do so an economy by definition must be self-reliant, diverse and under the control of working Canadians. Such abominations as Bedrock oligarchs from New York deciding the future of the people of Hamilton and Nanticoke would not be tolerated.
2018 NATO Summit
The 2018 NATO Summit will be held in Brussels from July 7-11. The agenda for the summit was the main topic of discussion at the NATO Defence Ministers' Meeting on June 7 to 8. Amongst the major concerns at that meeting were conflicts with the U.S. regarding "burden sharing," trade and other issues.
One of the major preoccupations of NATO and the U.S. is "fairer burden sharing," namely that all member states, besides the U.S., significantly increase their funding of NATO by increasing their domestic military spending to two per cent of GDP. "Burden sharing will be a key theme of our Summit next month," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on June 7 at the NATO Defence Ministers' Meeting. The U.S. is currently said to fund 22 per cent of NATO's budget. Stoltenberg stated that NATO has had "four consecutive years of real increases in defence spending. All Allies have stopped the cuts. All Allies are increasing defence spending. More Allies are spending two per cent of GDP on defence and the majority of Allies now have plans to do so by 2024. Across European Allies and Canada, we expect a real increase this year of 3.8 per cent. This means that, since 2014, European Allies and Canada will have spent additionally $87 billion on defence. When it comes to capabilities, Allies have committed to investing 20 per cent of their defence spending on major equipment. This year, fifteen Allies are expected to meet the guideline. And I count on more to do so in the coming years."
On June 19, U.S. President Donald Trump sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on Canada to meet NATO's spending targets. In his letter, Trump cites "growing frustration" in the U.S. with NATO members like Canada that have not increased defence spending as promised. "This frustration is not confined to our executive branch. The United States Congress has taken note and is concerned as well," Trump writes. He adds that "The United States is increasingly unwilling to ignore this Alliance's failure to meet shared security challenges."
In June 2017, the Trudeau government promised to
increase military spending by $30 billion over the next 10 years, and
by $62.3 billion over 20 years. This would put military spending at 1.4
per cent of Canada's GDP, below the two per cent being demanded by
Trump and NATO. However, Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan points
out that Canada is "too modest" in reporting the real picture and in
fact spends a lot more on defence.
All of it shows how the U.S. continues to set the agenda of what is discussed in international fora. Canada's quibbling but de facto kowtowing to U.S. and NATO dictate was described by the Globe and Mail as "build[ing] on the Trudeau government's announcement [...] of a more robust and independent foreign policy." Similarly, Sajjan adamantly claimed that Canada's new defence policy and increased military spending, despite being clearly in the service of U.S. and NATO interests, is "for Canada first of all."
The demand for increased spending by NATO members is tied to the U.S. initiative known as the "European Readiness Initiative" or the "Four Thirties," a rapid reaction force to be in place by 2020 that can deploy 30 land battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat vessels within 30 days, meaning some 30,000 troops, 300 aircraft and at least 30 vessels or submarines. This is part of NATO's encirclement of Russia, to "ensure we have the right forces in the right place at the right time," as Stoltenberg put it. Two new NATO command centres in Norfolk, Virginia and Ulm, Germany, with more than 1,200 personnel, are to oversee this program. "The plan was born out of a request U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis made to allies last fall along with demands for higher spending. The goal is to plug a perceived gap in NATO's response capability -- and therefore its credibility -- between the time that existing 'very high readiness' and 'initial follow-on' forces address the early stages of a crisis, and subsequent developments," says a Deutsche Welle report.
The same report cites Alice Billon-Galland, a policy fellow with the European Leadership Network, and Tom Goffus, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, saying issues with transport infrastructure and the state of the troops, their training and equipment, make realizing the "Four Thirties" by 2020 difficult. Billon-Galland questioned why the U.S. pressed for, and allies agreed to, announcing the initiative now with such a tight timeline. She said it's logical to "try to force the hand of Europeans to get more active when it comes to high readiness" which is an indisputable problem. But she pointed out, "it's also a risky move because if by 2020 this is a big joke because they can [only] get together 10 battalions in 45 days then it doesn't really look good for the alliance either."
Secretary General Stoltenberg spent the last week of June visiting with NATO members in Europe on a damage-control mission aimed at overcoming divisions between the U.S. and other NATO members prior to the summit.
At a speech hosted by the
British Foreign and Commonwealth
Office on June 21, Stoltenberg argued that for the European
countries and the U.S. to maintain "the transatlantic partnership
is in our strategic interest. Two World Wars and a Cold War have
taught us that Europe and North America are stronger, safer and
more prosperous together. That is why young American and Canadian
soldiers fought on the Western Front in the First World War. And
why their sons fought their way across the beaches of Normandy
almost thirty years later. After World War One, the Americans
left Europe. That was not a success. After World War Two, they
stayed." He also spoke about NATO's Article 5 on "collective
defence." The U.S. spuriously invoked Article 5 against Afghanistan
after the 9/11 attacks, despite the fact that the attacks were not
carried out by Afghanistan. Stoltenberg continued in this line of
disinformation speaking about, the "proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. Cyber attacks. And, of course, a more assertive Russia.
Which has used intimidation and force against its neighbours. Illegally
annexed Crimea. Destabilized eastern Ukraine. Meddled in our domestic
affairs. And tried to assassinate a British citizen and his daughter in
Salisbury using a banned chemical weapon. These are our common
challenges. And it is in our common interest to face them together."
In other words, Stoltenberg was only able to justify NATO and the need for "unity" on the basis of Cold War spectres and present-day disinformation about Russia and other matters that are either utterly unproven or have in fact been proven to the contrary.
What Stoltenberg did not say is that these conflicts between the U.S. and other NATO members over military spending, trade, migration, climate change, relations with Iran and with Russia, are but the latest in ongoing contradictions between NATO members, particularly between the big powers and especially between the U.S. and its hegemonism and all others who do not want to subordinate themselves to U.S. aims.
Also discussed at the Defence Ministers' Meeting on June 8 was the NATO "training mission" in Afghanistan known as the Resolute Support Mission. Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, Stoltenberg said that "NATO Allies and partners aren't just maintaining their contributions to our Resolute Support Mission, they are increasing them." He also noted the "real progress" in the ability of Afghan forces "to conduct offensive operations" and expressed his confidence that at the NATO Summit leaders will agree to extend funding to the Afghan Security Forces to 2024. "Our aim is to strengthen the Afghan security forces so they can create the conditions for a peaceful solution," the Secretary General said. Despite the brutal NATO invasion and occupation since 2001, and foreign-installed governments, Stoltenberg saw fit to say that "an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process is essential to a long-term, inclusive political settlement."
Why should Canada be any part of NATO's so-called unity? How does sending our youth overseas as cannon fodder as part of a global marauding military alliance to attack the youth and working people of other countries serve Canadians and their need for day-to-day security in the form of employment, public services and the affirmation of their rights? Why should they accept that increasing Canada's military spending to obscene levels to satisfy the U.S. and NATO is in the "national interest"?
The warmongering agenda of the NATO summit makes clear as ever that Canada must get out of NATO and that Canadians must be in action to discuss and organize to make Canada a Zone for Peace. It is by taking up their own agenda that the people can work out the stands that will block Canada's participation in NATO, NORAD and other aggressive alliances that undermine peaceful relations between nations and peoples and block the peoples' striving for a bright future free from foreign domination.
(With files from NATO, Deutsche Welle, Globe and Mail)
The European Union on March 21 announced plans to lower barriers for moving military equipment and troops across Europe.
The 28-member EU has sought to better integrate defence capabilities and capacities with a vision towards creating a European Defence Union by 2025 and meeting NATO priorities for swift military movements, namely the European Readiness Initiative aimed at aggressing Russia.
The European Commission proposal calls for identifying rail and road routes suitable for military transport and upgrading existing infrastructure, for example by ensuring the height and weight capacity of bridges can handle tanks and heavy military equipment.
Another part of the proposal is aimed at streamlining border checks to speed up the transport of military hardware, dangerous goods and personnel across borders.
"By facilitating military mobility within the EU, we can be more effective in preventing crises, more efficient in deploying our missions, and quicker in reacting when challenges arise," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said the objective is to make sure military needs are taken into consideration when developing infrastructure projects.
"This means a more efficient use of public money and a better-equipped transport network, ensuring a quick and seamless mobility across the continent. This is a matter of collective security," she said.
The European Commission plan must now be approved by EU governments and reviewed by the European Parliament. The first part of the action plan is expected to be carried out in the coming months and a first progress report delivered in summer 2019.
A confidential NATO report last year questioned the alliance's ability to defend against a Russian attack, citing a smaller command structure since the end of the Cold War and logistical difficulties on the alliance's eastern flank.
The European Commission said the action plan compliments rather than competes with NATO.
Across the United States numerous demonstrations, petitions, and meetings are taking place rejecting President Trump's wholesale attack on the human rights of immigrants and refugees. A national Day of Action is planned for June 30, with actions at the White House and in dozens of cities and towns across the country. The breadth of resistance can be seen in the fact that nurses, youth, women, workers for the Office of Refugee Resettlement which is responsible for the families and children, mayors and clergy, as well as people from all walks of life, are taking their stand. The issue is one of rights and many see that by defending the rights of all problems can be solved.
Both in separating children from their parents and now in calling for indefinite detention of families, Trump is acting to eliminate human rights law, especially as it concerns refugees. The large majority of those being detained are refugees from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where U.S. political and military interference has created conditions of anarchy, violence and terror for many. Refugees have the right to enter the country, turn themselves over to Border Patrol Agents and ask for asylum as most families are doing. Trump is instead criminalizing and terrorizing them. He is using his police powers to ensure no discretion is used in terms of dealing with each case -- the legitimacy of the asylum cases, the conditions the families have faced, the traumas they have already endured, and so forth. That is what is actually required by law and what the executive actions are eliminating. There is to be only the dictate of the executive, not the upholding of rights and laws concerning them.
This is further evidenced by the actions of U.S.
Sessions, who proclaimed that the U.S. will reject asylum claims
based on gang violence or domestic abuse. The gangs, many of them
instigated and armed by the U.S., are inflicting violence against
trade unionists, human rights organizers and many families. Yet
now the U.S. is arbitrarily deciding, again with no concern for
the facts, that such claims are not valid. It is interesting that
Trump is using the excuse of the gang-violence of MS-13 to target
young people in the U.S. for deportation, yet people in El
Salvador cannot use the violence of this same gang as a basis for
The police powers being imposed by the executive are arbitrary and a means for the government to broadly and openly act with impunity, all in the name of upholding the law. As well, Trump had no need to issue an executive order, as whether and how to deal with immigrants and refugees is at the discretion of the executive, in accordance with human rights and refugee law. He did so in part to target Congress, and quell resistance by giving the appearance that he is taking action.
The executive order serves primarily to try to impose
justify indefinite detention of families and to do so on the
basis of a misdemeanour infraction. This sets the stage for
targeting and detaining far more people, such as striking
teachers or demonstrators, also using misdemeanour
One of the serious issues being ignored with the Trump actions is the need for the federal government to control all military and policing agencies. Trump is using the current situation in part to test the loyalty to the president, of Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the military, especially the National Guard. A key problem is resistance among the states and their striving for control, as conflicts within and between the military, president and state forces increase. This is evident, for example, in New York Governor Cuomo filing a lawsuit against the federal government concerning due process for the refugee children. As well, many states are withdrawing or refusing to send their National Guard troops to the border as Trump is requesting.
The National Guard is state-based and can only be federalized by the executive with the consent of the state governor. Trump is in part testing the loyalty of the governors, as their control of large numbers of troops is a serious concern. This is particularly true given that fear is growing among all these contending factions that the festering civil war -- which always exists behind the scenes based on their contending for power -- will break out into open violence.
The intensifying clashes within the governing factions of the ruling elite were not sorted out by Trump's victory in the presidential election. And Trump's efforts to use immigration to unite the various forces have so far failed. Instead we continue to witness conflicts within the presidency and between the executive and the intelligence agencies, military and various state officials all becoming sharper with increasing tempo and instability. The refusal of states like New York to send the National Guard and their withdrawal by many states, are examples of this. So too is resistance by mayors. Many, like New York City's and Los Angeles', control huge, highly armed police forces.
Trump is trying to secure federal control of all military and policing agencies, including those at the state and local level -- so far, with only limited success. Texas and Arizona are providing large numbers of troops, but many other states are not. Mayors are sending a delegation to Texas rejecting Trump's executive order as not solving the problems at hand.
Both in law and tradition, the U.S. military cannot be used for law enforcement inside the country. Yet by organizing to send 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border, Trump is setting up conditions for just that. At the very least it is a means to get people in the border areas used to having military forces in their towns and communities. At the moment, the troops are not to be armed, but just as Trump arbitrarily changed the policy concerning family separation, he can also order the military to be armed. Already there has been an increase in the number of Border Patrol Agents and the militarization of the border using drones, fencing and spy towers with cameras directed at both sides of the border.
In addition, Trump's actions are a means to train border agents and the military to conduct inhuman activity, like tearing children from the arms of their parents and putting them in concentration camps. Or overseeing arbitrary actions against refugees who they easily know have already suffered tremendously. As one border agent put it, these families "have risked rape, robbery, assault, murder, have spent their life savings and given it to a criminal cartel to get them to the United States." Nothing in Trump's actions or executive order are directed at these cartels. Rather, the agents, including those with refugee resettlement, are being trained to take inhuman actions against their fellow human beings, treating them as if they have no rights.
Nurses in El Paso are showing the way, refusing to submit. They say, "Not in Our Name," and stand with the refugees and immigrants, refusing to treat them as criminals.
These efforts to condition people to accept and even implement what is unacceptable are an indication that all the warring factions of the ruling elite are greatly worried about what could be described as the largest and potentially most powerful faction, which is the people and their drive for a new direction for the country.
In this respect, the broad and persistent resistance is showing that this greatest of factions demands its rights and stands for the rights of all. The claims of all on society, including women, children and refugees, must be respected and recognized as inviolable. Given this is also an election year where people are supposed to line up behind one or the other of these ruling factions, the issue of changing the electoral setup so as to empower the people is also on the minds of many. The U.S. has a long history of separating children from their families, as occurred with Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans. The demand today is for all such brutality here and abroad to stop. The rights of all are being defended. Developing a system of governing that is of, by and for the people in the modern conditions, where the people decide, in opposition to the present unrepresentative governments of the warring factions of the ruling elite, is being taken up for solution.
As the many collectives of the people -- youth, women,
immigrants, workers -- strengthen their organized resistance and
many others come forward to defend rights, this battle to win
political power for the people is advancing. The necessity now is
to stand with the peoples in opposition to the ruling elite, and
to look at the social and political conditions from the people's
own vantage point, one that favours their interests and the
finding of a new direction. Political power belongs in the hands
of the people themselves to govern and decide. By addressing this
problem of political power and working to obtain it, the faction
of the large majority, the people, will prevail.
Voice of Revolution is
a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.
The U.S. National Domestic Workers Alliance is holding a Day of Action on June 30 to demand that the Trump administration stop caging children and jailing their families and reunite children in immigration custody with their families at once. They state, "Our demand is clear and not negotiable: Trump's policies of caging children and jailing their parents must be stopped immediately -- and families must be reunited!"
On June 20 U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order concerning detention of immigrants. It followed widespread actions and anger across the country and worldwide opposing the brutal attacks on young children and families at the U.S. southern border. More than 2,400 children, including infants and toddlers, have been separated from their families and then imprisoned or sent to shelters far from their parents and with parents often not knowing where they are. While the large majority are refugees seeking asylum, the order specifically refers only to immigrants.
Trump, like Obama, has long been implementing a policy to criminalize people, especially refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. Refugees have the right to enter the country and present themselves to Border Patrol agents, which is what the majority of those crossing are doing. However, Trump has now decided to criminalize all of those seeking entry, with no discretion as to the legitimacy of their asylum case and despite many being women with children.
In his executive order, titled "Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation," Trump emphasizes that, "It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws." He references section 1325(a) of title 8. But he leaves out that the crime referred to is a class B misdemeanour and that the executive has complete discretion in how and whether to charge individuals. Commonly no action is taken for a misdemeanor or a fine is given, but certainly it is not the basis for removing children.
Further, the parents are generally not being charged with this crime but rather detained for deportation. There is also nothing requiring the Department of Homeland Security or Department of Justice to separate families in order to enforce the law. Indeed the laws, both U.S. and international human rights law concerning refugees, are that they are to be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours and provided support and assistance in pursuing their asylum claims. It is also against the law to imprison the children involved.
Trump, like Obama before him, has been acting against the law and court rulings by detaining the parents and families in detention camps, often for years. The main difference now is the open and brutal manner in which he is separating the families and the wholesale attack on all.
The order says: "The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members." As indicated such proceedings can take many months and even years. The order, far from solving the problem of family detention provides the basis for indefinite detention.
Further, there is a qualifier, whereby the Secretary
not, however, detain an alien family together when there is a
concern that detention of an alien child with the child's alien
parent would pose a risk to the child's welfare." In this manner
the president is setting up a situation where the government can
claim the parents or guardian are gang members and still remove
the children. Already, false branding as gang members is used in
prisons to justify solitary confinement, especially for those who
resist. As well, government actions on Long Island falsely
branding youth from El Salvador as MS-13 members subject to
deportation are also occurring. So this qualifier is a means not
to protect the children, but to target them and their parents.
The reality that Trump will continue wholesale attacks on the human rights of parents and children alike is further indicated with the calls for expanding detention facilities, using military bases. The order states: "The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary, upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law." It also calls on heads of executive departments and agencies to "make available to the Secretary, for the housing and care of alien families pending court proceedings for improper entry, any facilities that are appropriate for such purposes." The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security will also no doubt contract out to private agencies, as is already occurring. Many of these agencies, housing thousands, are guilty of serious violations, including death and forced use of powerful psychotropic drugs on the children.
Trump also asks the Department of Justice to intervene to change a court ruling that specifically limits detention of children to 20 days. The executive has long violated this and the order does not call for this law to be enforced. Rather, Trump wants the requirement waived, even though all refugee families are supposed to be removed from the policing agencies, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol and turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, one of the few federal agencies without an armed police force.
It is also significant that in the order, Trump makes no mention at all of refugees, but only of immigrants. This is a means to hide the specific laws and norms governing refugees, such as their right to enter the country to seek asylum. The large majority of the refugee families turn themselves over to Border Patrol on entering and ask for asylum. This is not a crime. Yet Trump is striving to make it one and divert from the fact that the government is the criminal, acting against refugee and human rights law and using police powers to eliminate rule of law.
(Voice of Revolution)
The U.S. is well-known for using prisoners, soldiers, those held at Guantánamo and others under their constraint as guinea-pigs for various drug experimentation and for using drugs as a means to control and incapacitate people. Sometimes it is done using blackmail, sometimes in secret, but always in violation of basic human rights and for the benefit of the government and military. Now the targets are the refugee children being separated from their parents.
A recent lawsuit and investigations now provide hundreds of pages of medical records detailing how the government is creating a zombie army of children forcibly injected with medications that make them dizzy, listless, and even incapacitated.
Children held at Shiloh Treatment Center, a government contractor south of Houston that houses immigrant minors, described being held down and injected, according to the federal court filings. The lawsuit states that children were told they would not be released or see their parents unless they took medication and that they were only receiving vitamins.
Parents and the children themselves told attorneys the drugs rendered them unable to walk, afraid of people and wanting to sleep constantly, according to affidavits filed April 23 in U.S. District Court in California.
One mother said her child fell repeatedly, hitting her head, and ended up in a wheelchair. A child described trying to open a window and being hurled against a door by a Shiloh supervisor, who then choked her until she fainted. One child was prescribed 10 different shots and pills, including the antipsychotic drugs Latuda, Geodon and Olanzapine, the Parkinson's medication Benztropine, the seizure medications Clonazepam and Divalproex, the nerve pain medication and antidepressant Duloxetine, and the cognition enhancer Guanfacine.
Shiloh is among 71 companies that receive funds from the federal government to house and supervise immigrant children deemed unaccompanied minors.
A recent investigation found that nearly half of the $3.4 billion paid by the government to those companies in the last four years went to homes with serious allegations of mistreating children. In nearly all cases, the federal government continued contracts with the companies after serious allegations were raised.
The records were filed in connection with an ongoing class-action status lawsuit opposing poor treatment of immigrant children in U.S. custody.
(Voice of Revolution. Photo: J. Hontz)
The following statement is from registered nurses who work in hospitals across El Paso, Texas. The nurses are members of National Nurses Organizing Committee-Texas, an affiliate of National Nurses United.
As the nurses of El Paso who care for the border community in the middle of Chihuahuan desert we wish to express our outrage and horror that the U.S. government is preparing for children to be separated from their parents and housed in tents in the middle of Fort Bliss.
Fort Bliss is a desert military base that is larger than the state of Rhode Island and inaccessible to the general public and to local services including healthcare, education and community. In the summer temperatures routinely exceed 108 degrees. There is no water in this harsh arid landscape; there are not even trees for shade.
On a regular basis, we see the effects of the heat, dryness, lack of shade and lack of water on our patients who present in local hospitals, even without being detained in tents in the desert. This is not a forgiving environment, and not one in which children thrive without support.
Children, and all people, require more than simply a mat to sleep on and basic food rations in order to thrive. Children require love, family, safety, education, community, play, and physical and mental healthcare in order to grow to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. The proposed program does not appear to allow for these conditions; indeed, proposed as tents behind razor wire guarded by personnel with military weapons, it replicates the conditions of prisons.
Children who are presenting themselves to apply for asylum are not here in violation of immigration law. They are likely traumatized as a result of the conditions that led them to flee with their parents from their home countries and seek asylum in the United States. They have fled across harsh terrain, likely from places where they didn't have access to medical care, and their medical needs are likely overwhelming.
As nurses, we demand that these children have access to appropriate pediatric care and that their needs are met. Fort Bliss has a limited capacity to treat children, and this concerns us.
People in El Paso have a long and proud history of housing immigrants and asylum seekers. Many here in our city, including some of us, have already indicated that we would take a child into our homes in lieu of this proposed human rights atrocity which threatens to take place on the outskirts of our community.
As a border community, we have seen many immigrants and asylum seekers arrive in our city, and we as a community are proud of our welcoming, inclusive, compassionate, and nonviolent response to people seeking a better life. We have numerous programs and churches that have welcomed these populations for decades.
Do not do this in our name, and do not do this in our
(Photos: National Nurses United)
This letter was obtained and edited by William Lopez, Ph.D, University of Michigan School of Public Health and National Center for Institutional Diversity. The author wishes to remain anonymous for protection.
I work for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) with children who are coming to live here in the United States. The process goes like this: when a child comes to the United States by crossing the border and gets apprehended by immigration officers, he or she eventually comes to live in one of the many shelters across the United States funded by ORR.
ORR is responsible for providing basic care to the child, such as food, clothes, caretaker supervision, shelter, school, medical care and love/care/respect. At the same time, ORR undergoes a process of finding a sponsor with whom the child wishes to live in the United States. This sponsor is usually a family member, and ORR is responsible to verify that the sponsor's home is a safe place for the child to live. For instance, the sponsor should be able to provide adequate supervision, access to a nearby school, parenting capability, as well as any basic care needs for the child.
ORR is a good organization doing good work, even though it resides in the midst of a broken and inhumane system. Despite all the hardships within the immigration process, I have witnessed incredible care and support shown to children within the ORR system. I have been proud to play a supportive role in the children's lives as they continue on their journey to live in the United States.
However, things are changing. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is turning its back on the children for whom they are responsible.
Right now, ORR is working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE) in a way that will very likely lead to an increase in deportations and more children being stuck in government programs. ORR signed an agreement with DHS to provide them with the personal information of potential sponsors for the children with whom I work. These sponsors are often undocumented themselves. The children they hope to sponsor are often their biological children, nieces, nephews or family friends.
Now our case managers are obligated to inform the sponsors that by sponsoring a child, they have to give their personal information and location to DHS, and therefore, to ICE as well. If they surrender their personal information to ICE, they could potentially get deported.
Personally, I believe that the deportation of sponsors is a very possible outcome. I cannot understand why else DHS would be asking for their information. According to DHS, the purpose is to safeguard against the children being sent to would-be human traffickers, but that's surely a lie. We already do a very large amount of checks, including background checks, fingerprints, and continual case management services. This is all done in order to prevent a situation such as human trafficking from occurring, and the involvement of ICE does not appear to add any extra protections to the process.
This situation provides a moral conundrum for the sponsors: either they abandon a child who is placing their hope in them, or they put themselves at a high risk for deportation, in which case the child would be left alone in the United States without their family, unless they are deported as well.
There's more: sponsors will inevitably be far less likely to sponsor children with this new policy in place, and foster programs usually have a long waiting list. This means that there will not be any open beds in the ORR-run shelters because kids won't be leaving. Meanwhile, children continue to cross the border every day.
The border is already filled with children waiting to get moved into a shelter. Do you know what's happened in the past when ORR shelters have been full? Children get sent to military bases which have been opened up as emergency "shelters." This practice, which began during the Obama administration, has been rekindled under the Trump administration. Sleeping on cement floors, aluminum foil for blankets and very minimal food for the children
Is this really what the United States stands for?
My coworkers and I want to fight back, but as employees of ORR, our hands are tied. That's why I'm reaching out to the community. I view it as my moral responsibility as a citizen, but more simply, as somebody who cares about children.
Family separation is a form of child abuse. While this may or may not be true in the legal sense, research shows (and every counselor agrees) that the separation of children from their parents has a devastating emotional and developmental impact on a child. This practice is a new form of family separation which we will now be witnessing, in addition to the well-publicized family separations which have been happening at the border.
Please share this letter with your community, or post articles yourself, or if you can think of any other way to help, please do it. Call your representatives. Make sure the Attorney General for your state is aware that this is happening, and aware of your strong opposition. Talk to your friends and family and spread the word, because we are grasping at straws. We need media attention and massive pushback.
The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on June 18 urged the United States to prioritize family unity and the best interests of children as it implements what are called new "border management policies" along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"There are effective ways to ensure border control without putting families through the lasting psychological trauma of child-parent separation," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
"UNHCR stands ready to support the United States in implementing humane and secure alternatives," Grandi added.
Growing numbers of families in Central America have been forced in recent years to flee extraordinary, unchecked violence including murder, rape, abduction and forced recruitment of children into gangs, the UN News Centre points out. These families have been seeking protection in countries throughout the region.
"UNHCR continues to call on governments to work together to address the root causes in Central America and at the same time ensure safe haven for families fleeing life-threatening violence and persecution," the UN News Centre writes.
Also on June 18, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in his opening remarks to the 38th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that "In the past six weeks, nearly two thousand children have been forcibly separated from their parents."
Zeid said that the American Association of Pediatrics in the U.S. had called it a cruel practice of "government-sanctioned child abuse" which may cause "irreparable harm" with "lifelong consequences."
"The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable," he said, calling on the United States to immediately put a stop to the policy, and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In a statement issued on June 18, UN Secretary-General António Guterres defended the rights of migrant and refugee children, but did not single out the U.S.
"As a matter of principle, the Secretary-General believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law," said a statement issued by his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
"Children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved," said the statement.
The human rights situation in the U.S. was one of the many topics to be discussed at the latest Human Rights Council session, which runs through July 6. On June 19, the U.S. self-servingly withdrew from the council, while attacking various countries on an anti-communist basis as undermining the legitimacy of the council.
A UN panel of 11 independent Special Rapporteurs and other experts issued the following statement in Geneva, Switzerland on June 22:
The executive order signed by the U.S. President on June 20, 2018 fails to address the situation of thousands of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents and held in detention at the border, UN experts said. In addition, it may lead to indefinite detention of entire families in violation of international human rights standards, they said.
"This executive order does not address the situation of those children who have already been pulled away from their parents. We call on the Government of the U.S. to release these children from immigration detention and to reunite them with their families based on the best interests of the child, and the rights of the child to liberty and family unity," the experts said.
"Detention of children is punitive, severely hampers their development, and in some cases may amount to torture," the experts said. "Children are being used as a deterrent to irregular migration, which is unacceptable."
The UN experts have already expressed to the U.S. Government their grave concerns over the impact of the zero-tolerance policy signed by the Attorney General on April 6, 2018. As a result of the new policy, parents travelling with their children, including asylum-seeking families, were automatically separated and subjected to criminal prosecution as a punitive deterrent from migrating to the United States.
"The separations have been conducted without notice, information, or the opportunity to challenge them. The parents and children have been unable to communicate with each other. The parents have had no information about the whereabouts of their children, which is a cause of great distress. Moreover, we are deeply concerned at the long-term impact and trauma, including irreparable harm that these forcible separations will have on the children."
The UN experts noted that some of them are children with disabilities and need specialized support. Some have been taken from their breastfeeding mothers.
The lack of proper registration makes the tracking and ultimate reunification of these children particularly challenging. There are also legitimate fears that some children may never be reunited with their parents as they are sent to different parts of the United States while their parents may have been deported.
Most of the migrants detained are asylum seekers from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, who have fled their countries because of insecurity, violence and violations of their human rights. The vast majority of these migrants are Indigenous peoples or belong to ethnic or racial groups that are categorized as non-white in the United States. Thus, the executive order's effect on children and their families is devastation reserved largely for Indigenous and other non-white migrants.
"The best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration, including in the context of migration management, and children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents' migration status," the experts said.
The experts also expressed concern about the lack of due process guarantees for asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants, such as victims or potential victims of trafficking, who seek protection in the U.S., in possible violation of the principle of non-refoulement, lacking proper individual assessment, and at risk of deportations that result in further family separation.
"Migrant children need to be
treated first and foremost
children. While family unity needs to be preserved at all costs,
it cannot be done at the expense of detaining entire families
with children. Family-based alternatives to deprivation of
liberty must be adopted urgently," the experts said.
(UN News Centre)
On June 19, the U.S. withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It took the action amidst broad criticism internationally and from its own citizens at home for violating the human rights of those migrating to the U.S. from Central and South America.
U.S. representatives addressed the UNHRC meeting on June 19, beginning with remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He asserted a divine origin for human rights, going on to say, "Every individual has rights that are inherent and inviolable. They are given by God, and not by government. Because of that, no government must take them away." He asserted the U.S. as the primary defender of human rights in the world.
He claimed that the council has failed to live up to the leadership the U.S. has attempted to provide on human rights and is a "poor defender of human rights" and "an exercise in shameless hypocrisy" because many of those the U.S. accuses of human rights violations have been elected to the council.
Pompeo referred to the council's rejection of Zionism and Israel's isolation for its unacceptable occupation of Palestine and war crimes against the Palestinian people, as "bias against Israel."
He highlighted U.S. exceptionalism, saying that "when organizations undermine our national interests and our allies, we will not be complicit. When they seek to infringe on our national sovereignty, we will not be silent" and that the U.S. "will not take lectures from hypocritical bodies and institutions as Americans selflessly give their blood and treasure to help the defenseless."
He then introduced U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. She carried on in the same vein as Pompeo and stated that "as we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments; on the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights."
At no point did either Pompeo or Haley see fit to address the serious concerns raised by the UN, the council, the High Commission on Refugees or Special Rapporteurs on the serious human rights violations against migrants to the U.S. taking place along its southern border.
The U.S. has a long history of politicizing human rights issues to justify foreign intervention in the sovereign affairs of other countries, through sanctions, coups and military invasions. Such activity by the U.S. and its allies is why the precursor to the UNHRC, the Commission on Human Rights, ultimately ceased to function and had to be replaced.
On June 20, President of the Council Vojislav Suc said that the election of a new council member would take place "as soon as possible" to fill the vacant seat, once "notification of withdrawal [by the U.S.] is formally received." Council members are elected by majority vote at the UN General Assembly in New York and Mr. Suc told the council that he intended to "be in touch" with its General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak about choosing a replacement to complete the U.S. term that was to finish in 2019.
The UNHRC was created in 2006 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is made up of 47 United Nations Member States distributed by five geographic regions. Council members serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. Accordingly, the U.S. would have completed its second consecutive term in 2019 and would not have been eligible for re-election for the 2020-2023 period.
Civil War Scenarios
Governors from 11 states have cancelled agreements to send members of their National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico Border, as Trump has requested. Trump has to have the consent of the governor of each state to federalize the National Guard. Some, like New York, Massachusetts and Colorado, refused to deploy their troops, while others are recalling them. The other states so far are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Massachusetts, Maryland and North Carolina had already sent troops to the border but are recalling them. In some cases, like Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, only a few troops and a helicopter are involved. Nonetheless, the actions indicate that Trump's effort to secure the loyalty of the governors is facing opposition.
In other instances, governors are not only refusing to have troops involved, but are also issuing orders forbidding any state agency or resources to be used for separating families. These include Colorado, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Others, like governors for Delaware and Massachusetts, have said that if the Trump border policy changes, then they would send troops.
Illinois Governor Rauner said he opposes Trump's policy at the border but did not comment on sending troops. Nebraska Governor Ricketts said, "While there seems to be a lot of misinformation and propaganda regarding the situation on our border, one thing is clear: Children should not be separated from their families."
Some states, mainly border states, are sending troops, with Arizona and Texas sending the largest delegations. Arizona already has more than 300 at the border and is expected to deploy about 600 by September. Texas has pledged 1,000 and has already sent more than 300. California has agreed to send 400. According to Governor Brown, though, the California Guardsmen "cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement." New Mexico has pledged 250 troops and the governor has expressed support for Trump's border actions. Recently however, New Mexico State Senator Linda Lopez called on Governor Susana Martinez to withdraw the state's National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border. Mississippi and South Carolina are also sending troops.
(Voice of Revolution)
A bipartisan delegation of mayors from across the U.S. travelled to Tornillo, Texas on June 21, to respond to President Trump's Executive Order on the Administration's family separation policy and call for the immediate reunification of separated families.
During its 86th Annual Meeting held June 8-11 in Boston, the United States Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution registering its strong opposition to separating children from their families at the border. It calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to immediately reverse these destructive policies and allow families apprehended to remain together to the extent possible, to help avoid the heartbreak and irreversible trauma of forced separation. Additionally, the resolution urges Congress to take action immediately to ensure that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are prohibited from this wholesale separation of children from their families at the border.
United States Conference of Mayors President and Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, Steve Benjamin, issued a statement responding to President Trump's Executive Order on the Administration's family separation policy:
President Trump signed an executive order that will put an end to the separation of families at the border. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we must be clear that it is merely one small step that still leaves many questions unanswered. There are more than 2,300 children -- some as young as eight months old -- who are frightfully alone and must be reunited with their parents as soon as possible, and there is no clear answer as to how this will be done and how quickly. The President's indecision and erratic policymaking has impacted and, frankly, traumatized thousands of lives. The nation's mayors will proceed with their mission to Tornillo, Texas to ensure that these families are reunited and that such shameful policies are never implemented in our nation again.
The delegation included:
- Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin, USCM President;
- Rochester Hills (MI) Mayor Bryan Barnett, USCM Vice President;
- Los Angeles (CA) Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chair, USCM Latino Alliance;
- Anaheim (CA) Mayor Tom Tait, Co-Chair, USCM Immigration Task Force;
- New York (NY) Mayor Bill de Blasio, USCM Trustee;
- Austin (TX) Mayor Steve Adler, USCM Trustee;
- Seattle (WA) Mayor Jenny Durkan, USCM Vice Chair, Technology and Innovation;
- Gary (IN) Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Chair, USCM Criminal and Social Justice Committee West;
- Sacramento (CA) Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Chair, USCM Jobs, Education and the Workforce Committee;
- Findlay (OH) Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Chair, USCM Children, Health and Human Services Committee;
- Miami (FL) Mayor Francis Suarez, USCM Advisory Board Member;
- Augusta (GA) Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr., USCM Advisory Board Member;
- El Paso (TX) Mayor Dee Margo, Host Mayor;
- Santa Fe (NM) Mayor Alan Webber;
- Albuquerque (NM) Mayor Tim Keller;
- Central Falls (RI) Mayor James A. Diossa;
- Las Cruces (NM) Mayor Ken Miyagishima, USCM Advisory Board Member;
- Bridgeport (CT) Mayor Joe Ganim, USCM Advisory Board Member;
- Novato (CA) Mayor Josh Fryday
Posted below is a resolution passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors at its 86th annual meeting from June 8-11 in Boston.
Reverse the Department
of Homeland Security's Family Separation Policies
WHEREAS, considerable attention has been paid to the plight of children at the Southern border and the New York Times recently reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has separated more than 700 children from their parents since October 2017, including more than 100 children under age four; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Justice has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy toward individuals apprehended at the border, which calls for the prosecution of all migrants entering the United States outside of ports of entry and the resulting forced separation of many children from their families; and
WHEREAS, the new policy establishes that for parents and caregivers who are processed in the criminal court system and held in federal jails, their children will be classified as unaccompanied minors and housed in shelters awaiting placement with a U.S.-based adult who can assume their care and if the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) cannot locate a U.S.-based adult able to care for the child, the child will stay in federal custody, separated from family, indefinitely; and
WHEREAS, according to media reports, the number of children in HHS custody has grown by nearly 2,000 over the past month alone, shelters for migrant children are reportedly at 95 per cent capacity, and HHS is preparing to add potentially thousands of beds in the coming weeks to accommodate the rising number of detained children; and
WHEREAS, separating children from their families in this manner is inconsistent with American family values; and
WHEREAS, many of these families are fleeing violence in their home countries, and it is inhumane to punish them for seeking safety and invoking their right to seek asylum in the U.S.; and
WHEREAS, by adopting a policy that forcibly separates immigrant families, DOJ [Department of Justice] and DHS fuel the climate of hostility experienced by many immigrants and refugees residing here, which causes many to feel alienated and avoid contact with government agencies, which impacts public safety,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors registers its strong opposition to separating children from their families at the border and calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to immediately reverse these destructive policies and allow families apprehended to remain together to the extent possible, to help avoid the heartbreak and irreversible trauma of forced separation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to take action immediately to ensure that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are prohibited from this wholesale separation of children from their families at the border.
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org