Religious and community groups in Wellesley have organized a candlelight vigil to take place on Friday, June 29 at 8pm in front of Wellesley Village Church at 2 Central St. The vigil is in support of keeping families together in light of the recent events on the United States – Mexican border in which over 2,000 children were separated from their families as they tried tor cross the border from Mexico to the US.
The families were separated due to the Trump administration’s policy that all adults who attempt to cross into the U.S. illegally (i.e., without documentation such as a passport or visa — here are the documents needed to cross the border) must be criminally prosecuted. When a parent is criminally prosecuted, that parent must wait in a federal jail until his or her date to appear before a judge, likely a period of weeks. Because children cannot accompany parents to jail, the family is separated.
In the past, those crossing the border into the US have been held in an immigration detention center, a different thing entirely from a federal prison. In an immigration detention center the adults are not automatically considered criminals (it’s the innocent before proven guilty model), children are not separated from families unless they are suspected to be in danger from those families, and adults appear before an immigration judge, not a federal judge, who hears their case.
The end result may be asylum, deportation or, if the adult(s) have attempted to cross illegally multiple times, federal prison. If a judge grants asylum in the case, the children stay with their families and are granted legal entrance to the US with those families. If the judge rules for deportation in the case, the children stay with the adult(s) and leave the US with their families. If the judge finds the adult(s) guilty of a crime, the result is then family separation since the children of adults sentenced to federal prison time are then placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.