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Zero tolerance policy, Crimes against humanity, immigration enforcement, childtaking


Forced family separation under the U.S. Zero Tolerance policy is not only a crime against humanity, but also a crime against Indigenous Peoples, which includes the Maya. Rooted in white supremacist ideologies and settler colonialism, contemporary forced family separation continues historical violence inflicted upon Maya Peoples by the U.S. government. Submitted to the International Criminal Court, this amicus brief contends that the Court should investigate and hold the U.S. accountable for crimes against Indigenous Peoples under the U.S. Zero Tolerance policy. The amicus brief begins with an overview of Maya Peoples in present-day Guatemala and the meanings and practices of indigeneity. We then trace key historical periods that evidence the United States’ willful and systemic violence inflicted on Indigenous children and families over time. Periods include, among others, 1) removal of Indigenous children and placement in boarding schools; 2) U.S. support of military dictatorships during the 36-year armed conflict and genocide of Maya Peoples in Guatemala; 3) the intercountry adoption of children from Guatemala predominantly to U.S. families; and 4) ongoing punitive immigration policies that harm and in some instances kill Maya children. Perpetuating the U.S.’s long history of disappearing Indigenous people and culture, the Zero Tolerance policy specifically and U.S. immigration policy more generally is a patterned product of genocidal logics and state-inflicted harms by the United States designed to criminalize and terrorize families as a tool of deterrence.



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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.