Around one hundred people attended the Free the Children Coalition Press Conference held on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions order on Monday. Sessions ordered immigration judges to deny asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. Now local leaders and activists are coming together to end what they're calling "death by deportation."
"This is a terrible thing that is actually happening. This is not made up, this is not a fantasy. This is a reality of the American policy under the Trump administration," Richard Elias, Chair of Pima County Board of Supervisors said.
On Monday, Sessions spoke at the Executive Office for Immigration Review Annual Training Conference for Immigration Judges in Tysons Corner, Virginia. He said the move would bring down the number of immigration cases.
"The vast majority of the current asylum claims we're seeing are not valid. And you're not finding them valid for the last five years, only 20 percent of claims have been found to be meritorious after a hearing before an immigration judge," Sessions said.
Sessions said we currently have around 700,00 immigration cases in the U.S.
"I have put in place a 'zero tolerance' policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross the Southwest border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It's that simple," Sessions said.
On Tuesday Congressman Raul Grijalva released the following statement, “With Sessions’ latest directive, the Trump Administration has put the lives of thousands of asylum seekers in jeopardy by potentially deporting them back to their deaths. After separating families at the border, ramping up his deportation machine, and ending protections for vulnerable immigrants; it is clear that Trump will utilize every possible tool at his disposal to demonize immigrants and their children and terrorize vulnerable asylum seekers.
This latest change egregiously targets the most vulnerable immigrants and will cement the Trump Administration’s legacy as one of the cruelest in recent memory. I would remind Attorney General Sessions to remember the moral and legal obligations that we have to asylum seekers under both international and domestic law, and call on him to cease his baseless attacks on families and children seeking asylum from horrific violence.”
The Free the Children Coalition will also host a Families Belong Together rally at federal court Thursday, June 14th at 5:00 p.m.