Friday, July 18, 2014
Today the country’s attention is riveted on immigrant children who have made arduous journeys to the southern border of the United States. The country is asking what systems we have in place and what systems could be put in place to address their needs. People are debating why these children are arriving here, where they should go, and what our laws require. Some have proposed expedit ing deportations by implementing a non-judicial removal process for Central American children, circumventing protections afforded under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) .
Many organizations are weighing in on these issues from a variety of perspectives, and Appleseed would like to add to the discussion by pulling back the lens and examining the fundamental status of children in the United States, as a matter of law and morality. We find that the concepts central to the body of law dealing with children recognize that children are independent individuals endowed with moral and legal rights, who are given special recognition in many circumstances based on the developmental traits that distinguish them from adults. We do not send children into harm’s way; we protect and nurture children in our country; and we treat them as individuals who command our attention. In short, there are three core concepts that have, and must continue to, govern this country’s response to these children.
Core Principle 1: Placing children in danger is inconsistent with U.S. law and policy; indeed, we protect children.
Core Principle 2: U.S. law and policy acknowledge children are developmentally different than adults.
Core Principle 3: Children are individuals and have the right to be treated as such.