We, the faculty of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College, oppose the separation of migrant children from their families. As scholars who study and teach the historical and contemporary issues that shape the Americas, we are acutely aware that immigration to the United States from Latin America has been in decline over the last decade. The “Zero Tolerance Policy” initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not deter immigration. The majority of recent migrants that come from the Northern Triangle of Central America, specifically El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, seek refuge in the United States because their lives are in imminent danger if they remain in their home countries.
United States foreign policy, with deep histories in these countries since the 1980s and before, has contributed to the instability migrants suffer today, and as such, our nation must be party to constructive solutions to this regional crisis. Migrants from these countries have a legal and human right to enter the U.S. and request asylum. That is both national and international law. Deterrence policies, like family separation, only serve to punish those individuals that have traveled to the U.S. in an attempt to find safety.
Our disapproval of the Trump administration policy is not based on partisanship or political opposition. It is based on knowledge of the U.S. role in Latin America and in the recognition of the cruelty and inhumanity of Trump administration policy. We are encouraged by the public protest that resulted in the change of policy but believe this crisis will not be resolved until our government reunites immigrant families and provides them due process.