WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to take a tougher approach to some families who enter the U.S. illegally by separating parents from their children, instead of keeping them in detention together.
"If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday at a law enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."
Administration officials explained that the goal of the program is 100 percent prosecution of all who enter the U.S. illegally. When adults are prosecuted and jailed, their children will be separated from them, just as would happen for a U.S. citizen convicted and jailed.
Two years ago the subcommittee released a report detailing how health and human services officials placed eight children with human traffickers who forced the minors to work on an egg farm in Marion, Ohio. The report found that department officials had failed to establish procedures to protect the unaccompanied minors, such as conducting sufficient background checks on potential sponsors and following up with sponsors. As a result, the children were turned over to the people who contracted them out to the egg farm.
P.S. the difference between what the Obama administration did with children and the Trump administration is that Obama didn't separate children from their families. The Trump administration is monstrous.
The law says children traveling alone from countries other than Mexico or Canada must be released in the "least restrictive setting" — often to family or a government-run shelter — while their cases slowly wind through immigration court. It was designed to accommodate an influx of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central America.
And it had full-throated support from Republicans and Democrats alike, passing both houses of Congress unanimously. Republican George W. Bush signed it into law as one of his last acts as president.
The law says nothing about breaking up families. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a "zero tolerance" policy for illegal entries, pledging to criminally prosecute people with few or no previous offenses. If parents are jailed, they are separated from children who joined them under protocols described in the 2008 law.
Administration officials have acknowledged that about 700 children have been separated from their parents since October. That figure is certain to increase once the zero-tolerance policy takes hold; nearly 50,000 Border Patrol arrests since October were of people who came as families. That's about 1 in 4 arrests by the agents.
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