WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) have been detaining migrant fathers for minor trespassing charges in recent weeks, separating families in an apparent policy change, the Houston Chronicle has reported.
The situation recalls the “zero tolerance” policy under the Trump administration. A DPS spokesman acknowledged that fathers traveling with their families have been arrested and highlighted as “a key difference from the Trump policy” that mothers have not been separated from their children. A previous DPS policy directed that families with minor children be kept together and referred to U.S. Border Patrol.
“Detaining fathers and separating families to enforce minor offenses is the wrong approach,” said Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “Fathers are an essential part of their family unit. Texas’ actions should trouble all of us who value family unity.
“We are concerned to see yet another disturbing report about Texas’ deterrence-based approach to immigration. Arresting and detaining fathers on misdemeanor trespassing offenses separates families and does little to protect public safety. Texas must end this practice immediately and take steps to ensure the preservation of family unity and human dignity.”
“God’s concern for life extends to every member of a family,” said Bri Stensrud, Director of Women of Welcome, a community of evangelical women dedicated to understanding God’s heart for the immigrant and refugee through Scripture. “If Texas leadership claims they are Christian, pro-family, and pro-life, the policies that they continue to enact along the border are counter to all of these beliefs. Children and women are suffering the consequences of these deterrence measures and face increased vulnerability while being separated from their fathers and husbands. Secure borders and compassion are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can and must do better.”