White House Sets ‘Temporary’ End to Zero-Tolerance of Migrants Bringing Children

migrants
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy towards adult migrants who bring children with them has been temporarily stopped by a lack of resources, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

Border officers are not referring migrants with children to the Justice Department for prosecution, she acknowledged June 25, adding:

This is a temporary solution … We’re not changing the policy. We’re simply out of resources. And at some point, Congress has to do what they were elected to do, and that is secure our border, that is stop the crime coming into our country. The country has made extremely clear that they don’t want open borders. And Democrats need to understand that, and they need to work with Republicans and find some solutions.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters Monday morning that his agency is not referring family migrants to the Department of Justice, even though Attorney General Jeff Sessions wishes to implement the zero-tolerance prosecution policy.

Officials have not said they are cutting back the enforcement of the zero-tolerance policy against adults.

To build up the resources needed for prosecution of family migrants, Trump’s deputies are trying to expand detention and shelter resources for families, which typically comprise one parent with a single child. For example, officials are preparing to house up to 20,000 migrants at two military bases in Texas, Fort Bliss, and Goodfellow Air Force Base. Currently, border officials only have space for roughly 3,000 migrants in family groups.

Also, the Department of Justice is pushing for a rewrite of a 1997 judicial decision requiring the release of migrant families after 20 days.

Trump’s congressional outreach aides are pressing Congress in the pending 2019 budget, due to start in October. The 2017 and 2018 omnibus bills provided few extra resources to contain the surge of migrant families.

Also, Trump and his deputies are calling for Congress to reform the various laws governing the treatment of migrants.

Legislators in the House and Senate have begun drafting bills that would allow Trump to keep families in detention for at least several months while their asylum cases are processed.

The policy lurch came after Trump ordered an end to the policy of prosecuting all adults in family groups. Democrats and the media caused Trump to end the policy by showcasing the 2,000 separated migrant children of adult migrants who are being sheltered in government centers while their parents were being held in jails as they were being prosecuted.

A growing number of migrants have been bringing children with them to exploit the Flores “catch-and-release” loophole. The New York Times reported:

“This is the reason I brought a minor with me,” said Guillermo T., 57, a construction worker who recently arrived in Arizona. Facing unemployment at home in Guatemala, he decided to head north; he had been told that bringing his 16-year-old daughter would assure passage. He asked that only his first named be used to avoid consequences with his immigration case.

“She was my passport,” he said of his daughter.

However, Democrats are signaling they will oppose any change in the laws that would allow the federal government to keep migrants in detention while their cases are processed. The Washington Post reported:

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sounded cautious Monday about the prospect of a deal coming together swiftly.

“I don’t know. It’s too early to tell, okay?” Schumer said. “We’ll certainly look at what people can come up with.”

At least 400,000 migrants were given work-permits in 2017 after they applied for asylum.

Trump should make sure the family migration issue is part of the 2018 midterm elections, says Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He tweeted:

One out of four border arrests are of illegals with kids (a\k\a “get-out-of-jail-free cards”), up from just 3% in 2013. That share will now grow further. GOP needs to nationalize this issue for November: choice is let ’em all in or end Flores to be able to enforce the law.

Trump’s zero-tolerance policy is popular, according to recent polls.

 

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