Friday, June 19, 2009

Humane Action Prevails: Temporary Parole Reunites Minors with Parents

“No matter where you stand on the immigration debate in this country, children should be free to go to school without the fear of being deported. We are pleased with the decision of the federal government to allow these three students to come back home - it is a step in the right direction.”
AFSC San Diego press release

Nearly a month ago the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a controversial immigration raid in San Diego’s Old Town Trolley stations. The mid-May operation was led by the U.S. Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The “trolley raid” led to the apprehension of 21 persons, including three teenagers who were on their way to school.

Local response included a swift and united condemnation of the "trolley raids" and calls for DHS to be held publicly accountable for these actions. The strong outcry included the voices of educators, parents, community advocacy organizations, faith and other local leaders. Early this week, DHS officials announced that the 3 high school students who were apprehended in the raid were granted humanitarian visas and expected to reunite with their families. The three will appear before an immigration judge at a later date.

In the meantime, AFSC and other community partners are urging law enforcement officials to ensure the protection and the human rights of minors. Indeed, this case is an opportunity for immigration authorities to review and improve the policies dictating how children and teen-agers should be treated and questioned for immigration purposes.

According to Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s San Diego office, “The humanitarian parole offered to the three minors detained in a DHS operation is a positive step forward in acknowledging that egregious missteps took place in their initial detention on May 20. This is an opportunity for both the US and Mexican governments to re-evaluate the regulations dictating how minors should be treated, and to ensure that physical and mental integrity remain a priority in any contact minors have with federal immigration agents.”

AFSC's San Diego office and program sites throughout the nation will continue to work with families and advocates to improve policies addressing the detention of minors. For further information, please contact AFSC’s San Diego staff at 619-233-4114 or visit to read A New Path Toward Humane Immigration Policy.