In a major shift in tone from last week, White House Sec. Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors who face a credible threat of death in their home countries will “likely” be “granted humanitarian relief.”
“These children will — and other immigrants who are attempting to enter the country without documentation — will go through the immigration process,” Earnest said.
“And that means their claims of asylum will be heard by an immigration judge and by asylum officials and what that means is, it means that if an immigration judge determines that they face a credible threat of death upon their return to their home country then — again I’m not an immigration judge — but it is likely that the immigration judge will find that that person should be granted humanitarian relief,” he explained.
Last week Earnest said that “most” of the illegal immigrant children would be removed.
“It’s unlikely that most of the kids who go through this process will qualify for humanitarian relief, which is to say that most of them will not be found through that court process to have a legal basis to remain in this country,” he said.
Monday, Earnest was responding to calls from the left, from Democrats such as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, that the unaccompanied minors streaming across the border should not be sent back to their home countries, which are said to be dangerous.
“We have said from the beginning that we are going to respect the basic due process to which these individuals are entitled,” Earnest said. “That continues to be true and that is, again part and parcel of the law that we’re enforcing.”
Since October more then 57,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally crossing the southern border into the U.S.
Earnest and the White House have said that sending the children back to their home countries will serve as a deterrent for parents considering sending their children illegally to the U.S. alone.