The Summit County council unanimously adopted a resolution denouncing the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy at the U.S. Mexico border and the separations of families that have resulted.
The resolution was adopted 4-0. With council member Chris Robinson absent Wednesday.
The document said that the administration’s “prosecution-first” policy against migrants entering outside ports of entry is costly, and unnecessary. The separations are intentionally inflicting injury to children and is “threatening the moral code of our nation.”
It said the Trump Administration admitted that 2,342 children have been separated between early May and early June. And although President Trump stopped the separations in an order June 20th, that order doesn’t re-unite families and allows the indefinite detention of family units.
Council Chairwoman Kim Carson said the statement was suggested by a constituent, and she’s heard other comments in support.
Roger Armstrong noted they have heard a couple of comments criticizing the county.
“I had one e-mail asking us to refrain from commenting on issues outside of our borders, to focus on local issues.” Armstrong continued “And I had a phone call from a constituent who claimed he’s lost jobs recently to workers that are undocumented, and expressing frustration about impacts on schools and other places.”
Armstrong said that all, or many, of the detained immigrants are fleeing deadly conditions in central America. He said when he traveled to Guatemala last fall, he consulted the State Department’s website.
“It’s essentially a lawless country. It’s a place where the police are unable to control guns, they’re unable to control gangs. In some of the instructions, they talk about whether or not it’s safe to ride buses. There are bus drivers that are routinely shot and killed.” Armstrong continued “Some of these places, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, are having serious law-enforcement issues, and they’re having very significant human rights issues, (…) in many of these cases these are parents, not all these cases, bringing kids here to reunite with somebody else who’s come here before.”
Armstrong said he’s not sure how this country got to the current situation.
“To go from a country where you feel that your life is in peril to arrive in this country, have your child taken from you to be immediately deported back to the country that you fled. Where your life is once again in peril, and for some of these people it may mean certain death to arrive there (…) It’s wrongheaded, it’s ill-conceived, and it’s in my opinion using children and families as leverage to try to push through immigration controls that would not otherwise be seriously considered by congress.”
Council member Glenn Wright said the zero-tolerance policy is a disgrace and a political act. He added that the U.S. has a responsibility for the situation in the countries south of the border.
“I traveled to Latin America for about a dozen years every other week. I’ve heard people say ‘well, why don’t they just fix their law-enforcement system?’ The major cause for most of the lawlessness throughout Latin America is the U.S. drug appetite.” Wright said “I remember the first meeting I had with the board of directors in our local company, in Colombia, that I visited in company over 20 years ago now. Their first statement to me ‘We’ve already had 30 years of revolution here, and it’s all based on your drug appetite.’ We have a responsibility.”
Wright said they should not turn away refugees at the border.
“If you look at the actual numbers, the numbers of refugees we accept every year is less (…) than one-hundredth of one-percent of the U.S. population.” Wright said “If we can’t accept people in distress, at that small of percentage of our population, we should be ashamed of ourselves.”