Fil-Am group urges Trump to halt family detention

MANILA – An official of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a non-profit Filipino organization based in the United States, has issued a statement welcoming President Donald Trump’s executive order on Wednesday that ended his administration’s family separation policy for future cases.

Lawyer Arnedo S. Valera, MHC executive director, however, urged Trump to include in the executive order’s implementing rules a provision that would also apply to parents and children currently separated, or be grandfathered in legal terms, and halt the executive order’s effect of indefinite detention of parents together with their children.

Valera furnished a copy of his statement to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

He said that a 2015 court order citing a 1997 settlement called Flores agreement states that children cannot be held in long-term detention even with their parents. Typically, the limit is about 20 days.

“Many of these parents and their children are fleeing their countries in Central America in grave fear for their lives because of gang violence and (the) drug cartel’s atrocious criminal activities,” Valera said. “They are now seeking asylum and refugee status in the US.”

He appealed to the American president to “release the parents and their children temporarily while their asylum claims are being processed.”

“We can always maintain toughness and control our borders, but we can do so while remaining true to American principles and ideals, including basic human decency and humanity,” Valera, an ordained minister, added.

Since May, US immigration authorities have placed some 2,300 children, including infants, in detention shelters, separating them from their mothers or fathers when they crossed the Mexico-US border without authorization. Ben Cal/