Julia Edwards Ainsley reports:
“Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by U.S. authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials.
Part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children, said the officials, who have been briefed on the proposal.
The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the “least restrictive setting” until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian.
Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.
President Donald Trump has called for ending “catch and release,” in which migrants who cross illegally are freed to live in the United States while awaiting legal proceedings.
Two of the officials were briefed on the proposal at a Feb. 2 town hall for asylum officers by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum chief John Lafferty.
A third DHS official said the department is actively considering separating women from their children but has not made a decision.
HHS and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.”
. . . .
U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat whose district includes about 200 miles (320 km) of the border with Mexico, slammed the proposal. “Bottom line: separating mothers and children is wrong,” he said in a statement.
“That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights,” he said.”
I agree with Rep. Cuellar. “Refugee deterrence plans” used by past Administrations of both parties involving mass detention and schemes to make things difficult for families have failed and will continue to do so. Desperate people, fleeing for their lives, will do desperate things, including putting up with detention and other inhumane treatment by the U.S.
Undoubtedly, as in the past, some individuals will be pressured by detention and family separation into giving up claims and accepting return. But, overall, most who face the real possibility of death, torture, extortion, and other abuse upon return will “wait the system out” hoping, even when the the evidence might suggest otherwise, that the U.S. will eventually live up to its ideals of fairness, due process and compliance with laws on protection.
Let’s remember that we are talking about scared refugees seeking to exercise their rights under U.S. law, the Geneva Convention on Refugees, and the Convention Against Torture, to apply for protection at the border or in the U.S., and to have those claims fairly and impartially determined.
Rep. Cuellar is someone who has taken the time to understand the problems of children and families in the U.S. Immigration Court system. I know he visited the Arlington Immigration Court on one or more occasions to observe “priority” juvenile hearings. Partially as a result, he became one of the leaders of the successful bipartisan effort to provide additional funding and judicial positions for the Immigration Court. Remarkably, the bulk of those additional positions remained unfilled or “in the pipeline” at the conclusion of the Obama Administration.
Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this in.