The Facts About Family Separation at the Border
The ongoing debate concerning the status of illegal immigrants in the United States has been rekindled for the moment, as parents are being separated from their children when they illegally cross the US border. The current national debate comes from a relatively recent policy that allows border police to immediately take children from their parents or families of illegal immigrants so that the adults can face court charges.
The policy began in April, when the Attorney General Jeff Sessions instituted a “zero tolerance” system to immediately apprehend and take legal action against anyone entering the country illegally, including those with children. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released guidelines on both their website and on flyers explaining how children will be “held in a temporary child shelter or hosted by a foster family.” This is to quickly allow people who have illegally crossed the border to immediately be taken into ICE custody and face charges before a court. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 2000 children had been taken from adults between April and May. It isn’t clear to families where exactly the separated children are being held, and the process to even establish contact with them, let alone get them back, is also unclear.
According to the Trump Administration, the children are being kept in a network of places across 17 different states that provide various helpful services from education to counseling to play facilities. Furthermore, they are staffed by capable, responsible people who are qualified to work with young children, according to Steven Wagner of the Administration for Children and Families.
Previously, under the Obama Administration, families were allowed to wait together pending a court case. In some special cases, families could live outside of detention centers, but under close supervision, such as with ankle monitors, through the “Alternatives to Detention” program, which was praised by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The new policies have received harsh criticism by advocacy groups for immigration reform, as well as prominent Republicans. There have been multiple protests at both the border and the capitol, as well as sweeping media coverage on the issue, who have decried the process as a “violation of human rights.” Even the Obama Administration’s solution drew criticism from them, for keeping children detained from their parents inside the family facilities.
The tension between immigration groups and Donald Trump predates even the Republican presidential nominations in 2016, when he first began his remarks about building a wall on the US-Mexico border. Throughout his campaign, Trump has promised to stem the tide of illegal immigrants with harsh measures.
In the face of such criticism, Republican congressional leaders are attempting to find ways to amicably solve the solution in such a way that doesn’t compromise the nation’s border security and maintains the Trump Administration’s strictness against illegal immigration.
The President has since signed an executive order, ostensibly ending this policy that began under the Clinton administration in 1996. While the executive order will act sufficiently as a temporary measure for the sake of deferment, only legislation has the true political weight necessary for the establishment of a long-term solution. If a long-term solution is to be reached, it will require that congress pass immigration reform.
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