Immigration Zero Tolerance Policy

On April 6, 2018 Attorney General Sessions here announced implementation of a zero tolerance policy concerning handling of people crossing the US Southwest Border illegally.  This implementation includes treating illegals as criminals instead of simply detaining them for subsequent deportation out of the country.

One consequence of this policy is US policy is to separate children from those charged with a crime and imprisoned.  Thus, the policy has resulted in numerous children being separated from their parents for placement with a sponsor.   A sponsor can be a family member already in the country, legally or illegally, or a foster care provider or shelter or other entity authorized by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  I must say that taking them from one illegal family member to place them with another illegal family member seems rather odd to me without knowing the government’s logic.

It seems to me that a better approach would be to treat the illegal entry immigration law separate from other laws such as murder, theft, etc.  If necessary to do so, Congress should enact such a provision.  The illegal immigration law would allow children to remain with parents unless there is clear evidence of child abuse.  The children would be allowed to remain with the parents until a determination is made as to the disposition of the parents.  If the parents are deported then their children should be deported with them.  If the parents are sent to jail then the children could then be placed by HHS.  If the parents are allowed asylum or otherwise allowed to stay in the US free, the children would be with the parents.

My recommended approach is better especially given that it has been reported that HHS has lost contact with approximately 1500 children HHS placed in 2017; these are however children who came unaccompanied, that is, without their parents.  So then what happens if HHS places the subject parents children and then the parents are deported but HHS can not find the children to deport with the parents.  Now the parents have effectively had their children stolen from them.  This could be the intentional or unintentional basis for an adoption or trafficking scheme at some level of government and/or private group/citizen, i.e., for persons to get children who want children.

On June 20th, 2018, President Trump did indeed change policy and signed an executive order outlining a procedure to keep children with their families as the parents are processed for disposition.   It does not apply if there is evidence of child abuse/neglect or the child welfare is otherwise in danger by staying with the parents.  See the White House article here and CNN article here for more info.

On June 26, 2018 a Federal Judge ordered the government to return all separated children to their parents within 30 days.  If the child is under 5, they must be returned within 14 days.  The judge also forbids the government from separating immigrant parents from children nationwide. It does not apply if there is evidence of child abuse/neglect or the child welfare is otherwise in danger by staying with the parents.  A USA Today article covering this may be found here.

A Politifact article addressing this may be found here.

A CBS News article addressing this and other immigration issues may be found here.

Immigration Courts and Law

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