Homeland security officials are preparing a plan to deter migrants by splitting up border-crossing groups who claim to be family members, according to a leaked reports in the New York Times.
The newspaper reported:
The forceful move is meant to discourage border crossings, but immigrant groups have denounced it as draconian and inhumane.
Under current policy, families are kept intact while awaiting a decision on whether they will be deported; they are either held in special family detention centers or released with a court date. The policy under discussion would send parents to adult detention facilities, while their children would be placed in shelters designed for juveniles or with a “sponsor,” who could be a relative in the United States, though the administration may also tighten rules on sponsors.
The policy is favored by the White House, and has been approved by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to three officials at the Department of Homeland Security and one at the White House who have all been briefed on the proposal but declined to be named because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. The officials said that the new Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, who has final approval power, has yet to sign off on the proposal.
But the New York Times story also admits the revamp could be an effective fix to the “catch-and-release” policies created by a combination of pre-2017 lax policies, by courthouse backlogs and by a shortage of jail space for migrants.
For example, many migrants — including adults with children — tell border officials that they have a “credible fear” of persecution in their homeland. Under rules set by former President Barack Obama, a “credible fear” claim forced border officials to free claimants — including adults carrying children — into the United States until their court claims were eventually decided by backlogged immigration courts. The policy continues in 2017 because officials do not have enough jails to hold the flood of asylum-claiming migrants.
Splitting groups who claim to be families may deter some migrants and so help reduce the flood so that officials can detain all migrants until their court claims are completed.
The New York Times reported one case where a woman allowed her reported husband to cross the border carrying her one-year-old-son named Mateo, while she stayed in Mexico with her four-year-old son.
One of those parents, José Fuentes, presented himself to immigration officers at the border, along with his 1-year-old son Mateo, to claim asylum in November. The family had fled El Salvador with a caravan of asylum seekers because of gang violence, said Mr. Fuentes’s wife, Olivia Acevedo.
After four days of being held in custody together, Mr. Fuentes was transferred to a detention facility more than 1,000 miles away, in San Diego, Calif., while their son was held in a facility for children in Laredo, Tex.
For six days afterward, Ms. Acevedo said, she, her husband and their lawyers could not confirm where Mateo was. They were terrified. “Can you imagine?” she said in Spanish in a telephone interview from Mexico, where she remains with the couple’s other son, Andrée, who is 4. “It’s inhuman to take a baby from its parent” …
She said that if her husband had known that he would be separated from their son, they would not have tried to cross the border.
Pro-American activists welcomed the reform.
"It might seem heartless, but it’s more heartless to give them the illusion they're going to be able to enter the United States freely by hiring a smuggler to come here, because the dangers associated with smuggling along the southwest border are real." https://t.co/dVyCQJQXwX
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) December 22, 2017
Cheap-labor business groups oppose better enforcement of the nation’s laws against illegal immigration:
In 2018 we fight to stop policies like this. We fight for the soul of our country. It starts with the Dream Act. https://t.co/9gQoBI4fmS
— Todd Schulte (@TheToddSchulte) December 22, 2017
Pro-amnesty groups also backed migrant foreigners, not sidelined Americans.
The Faces of Deportation in 2017 https://t.co/37c47DMKzn via @AmericasVoice @nunez_anna Take a look at just a small fraction of the families that Trump and his deportation force have separated pic.twitter.com/W6LAHPQ5VU
— America's Voice (@AmericasVoice) December 22, 2017
President Donald Trump’s deputies are also preparing plans to prosecute or deport illegal immigrants in the United States who use the loopholes opened by Obama.
For example, Obama’s deputies helped many illegal-immigrant parents transport their homeland children up to cities in the United States, but Trump’s officials are looking for ways to prosecute illegal immigrants who try to transport their children northwards.
Trump’s deputies are also recruiting more immigration judges to accelerate the resolution of asylum claims. They are looking to build or rent more jails which could be used to detain migrants pending their court hearings, so ending the “catch-and-release” policies created by Obama.
More than 300,000 Central American migrants crossed the border using Obama’s loopholes from 2011 to 2016. The northward flow included may young adults who joined MS-13 gangs in northern cities.
Nine million American men have been pushed out of the workforce by the federal government's policy of lowering wages, says Obama economist. But he can't mention the cause — the federal policy of goosing economic growth via cheap-labor immigration. https://t.co/OUs2C2idNT
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) December 19, 2017
Read it all here.