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NMHBA Statement on 'Zero Tolerance' Family Separation Policy

Parental rights “in the care, custody, and control of their children” are “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.” - Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 66 (2000).

We, the Board Members of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association (NMHBA), an organization comprised of more than three hundred attorneys and students throughout New Mexico, stand in solidarity with immigrant families and against President Trump’s policies that separate families and any policies that indefinitely place families in detention. We support and stand by the statements released by the Hispanic National Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Though we may hold different views on national immigration policy, we can agree that it is inhumane to separate children from their parents at the border.

While separation of parents and children has taken place on an incidental basis in the past, it has never been applied uniformly as a strategy to deter migration. It is apparent from the public comments of several high-ranking Trump Administration officials that a primary purpose of the “zero tolerance” policy was to serve as a deterrent for migrant parents who enter the United States without authorization and are accompanied by their children. Not only does existing law suggest that this policy violated rights to family integrity and due process, but the policy is unfair, inhumane and ineffective. These federal constitutional rights and protections have been applied equally to immigrant and citizen parents in child welfare cases. See, e.g., In re Doe, 281 P.3d 95 (Idaho 2012); In re E.N.C., 384 S.W.3d 796 (Tex. 2010) and In re Interest of Angelica L., 767 N.W.2d 74 (Neb. 2009).

On Wednesday June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an Executive Order geared toward “ending” family separation. This Order indicates that immigrants who are arrested while entering without documentation will continue to be prosecuted criminally and that families will be detained indefinitely. Current law does not require that every immigrant be jailed for entering the United States without permission – that is merely a narrative pushed by the Trump Administration. The Executive Order also directs the Attorney General to seek leave to modify the Flores Settlement, so that children will be detained with their parents in jail rather than being released to close relatives or being detained in the least restrictive conditions possible.

We must call on the Trump Administration to immediately reunite the families that have been separated due to his policies. The newly signed Executive Order is not a reversal of the previously implemented policy. It merely serves as optics for the administration to claim that they are not ripping families apart. The Executive Order is expected to temper the moral outcry from concerned individuals, but we must continue working to assure humane treatment and due process for families crossing the border.

Long term, the NMHBA looks forward to assisting in developing and advocating for policies that promote due process and family integration within our immigration system. Our nation has always served as a beacon of hope for those fleeing violence or persecution. We cannot now, or ever, become the evil that we seek to rescue others from.

For those that are looking to help out immediately, we suggest several avenues:


  • New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC):

  • Santa Fe Dreamers Project:

  • HNBA Immigrant Legal Defense Fund:

  • RAICES Bond Fund (TX):

  • Al Otro Lado (CA):

  • Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley’s Amazon wish list:

  • Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (AZ):

  • ACLU:

  • American Immigration Council:

  • National Immigrant Justice Center:

  • Young Center for Immigrant Children Rights:


  • Contact Your Elected Representatives

  • Senator Martin Heinrich: (202) 224-5521

  • Senator Tom Udall: (202) 224-6621

  • Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham: (202) 225-6316

  • Congressman Steve Pearce: (202) 225-2365

  • Congressman Ben Ray Lujan: (202) 225-6190

  • Main Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121

  • Join the Families Belong Together March on June 30, 2018

  • Advocate for Congressional Action to Prioritize Family Unity


  • New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC)

  • Santa Fe Dreamers Project

  • Cara Pro Bono

  • KIND (Kids in Need of Defense):


  • VOTE

  • New Mexico General Elections: Tuesday, November 6, 2018


The Board of Directors for the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association

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