Teachers unions and civil rights groups filed a human rights complaint at the United Nations Wednesday morning over the Trump administration’s policy of separating families caught illegally crossing the border.
The zero tolerance policy designed to deter illegal border-crossing puts parents in jail while their children are placed in detention centers. It resulted in nearly 2,000 children being separated from their parents from mid-April through May.
Education and civil rights groups have decried the policy as inhumane. In filing a formal complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Council, the nation’s two teachers unions, as well as civil rights groups like the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, are claiming that the policy violates international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Notably, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that the U.S. was leaving the Human Rights Council, saying that the body has failed to hold abusers of human rights accountable.
“The trauma caused by family separation is heinous under any circumstances, particularly in a civil society centered on family values,” the groups say in the complaint. “It is intolerable and unlawful to separate families who have sacrificed everything to escape the toxic circumstances of their home countries.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told HuffPost that this issue especially resonates with the teachers she represents.
“We love children. These kids should actually be in schools and with their parents and with their families, not separated from them,” Weingarten said. “We believe in helping children thrive, not in confining them to heinous, abusive situations.”