Offbeat Zero-tolerance immigration policy leads to surge in family separations, lawyer says

23:31  13 june  2018
23:31  13 june  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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Under this zero - tolerance policy , adults apprehended between ports of entry will be transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), tried in Criminal immigration prosecutions reached a peak of 97,000 in FY 2013, although first-time crossers were not prioritized. Family Separation .

Many of the people at the center had just experienced the U.S. government’s new “ zero tolerance ” policy and the family separation resulting from it. At the center, agents separate parents from their children while the adults’ criminal cases are pursued, she said .

The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney Tuesday how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally.

When the woman resisted, she was handcuffed, Natalia Cornelio, the attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, recalled from her interview with the woman, who had been detained under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution.

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The administration says there has been a surge of illegal border crossings, especially by families . In two speeches before law enforcement officials in Arizona and California, Sessions expanded on the " zero tolerance " policy against illegal immigration he first announced last month.

This is what Trump’s zero - tolerance policy looked like to Aleman-Bendiks and scores of other Family separations were rare under the Bush and Obama ­administrations. Though they didn’t target families , Trump’s predecessors also ramped up illegal entry prosecutions in response to surges .

Since the policy was announced in May, some 500 children have been separated from their parents within the last month, according to Miguel A. Nogueras, an assistant federal public defender for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen, citing an unofficial count by an attorney in his office.

Some parents who are under arrest tell public defenders they don't know what happened to their children, Nogueras said. Some parents also claim they have been told their children are being taken to be bathed or cleaned up, then the adults don't see them again.

"The government is essentially torturing people by doing this," Cornelio said.

In an interview outside the federal courthouse in McAllen, Nogueras said: "It depends on who the agent is on that day. They'll be told, 'We're going to separate your kids so they can bathe.' And that's not true."

Jeb Bush: Trump should end 'heartless' policy separating migrant families

  Jeb Bush: Trump should end 'heartless' policy separating migrant families Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Monday said President Trump should stop his administration's "heartless" zero-tolerance immigration policy, which has resulted in children being separated from their parents. Bush, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016, also said Congress should pass an immigration law that addresses issues raised by both Democrats and Republicans."Children shouldn't be used as a negotiating tool.

'Why are youtaking him?': Trauma lingers from ' zero tolerance ' immigration policy that separates parents, kids. center had just experienced the U.S. government’s new “ zero tolerance ” policy and the family separation resulting from it.

Trump administration's ' zero tolerance ' border enforcement policy to separate more families . "This is not about family separation ," said a DHS official, who didn't wish to be named. "This is all about referring people for prosecution who break our nation's immigration laws ."

He added: "It's really hard to look in the eye of a mother or father who would plead for you -- help me get my child back." 

'My daughter is here'

Inside the crowded federal courtroom, another undocumented Honduran immigrant stood in shackles Tuesday pleading with a judge preparing to sentence him for illegally entering the United States.

Authorities had separated Oman Rodriguez-Avila from his 8-year-old daughter when they caught him and other immigrants crossing the border a day earlier.

"I would ask that you give me a short sentence because my daughter is here," he told a judge in Spanish, speaking through a translator.

The federal judge sentenced Rodriguez-Avila to 15 days in jail because Rodriguez-Avila was previously convicted for the same misdemeanor offense in 2012 and deported.

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The plaintiffs argued in the lawsuit, filed before the administration unveiled its latest zero - tolerance policy , that it was a violation of due process to separate parents and children simply as a means to deter illegal immigration .

Attorney General Jeff Sessions undermined her argument three days later, when he announced that the Justice Department’s “ zero tolerance ” policy for Lee Gelernt, the lawyer leading the ACLU lawsuit, called the government lawyer ’s unwillingness or inability to defend family separation on the merits

US Customs and Border Protection did not return calls to address Nogueras' claims.

Cornelio recalled how quickly the tears flowed when the Civil Rights Project interviewed immigrants, whose children had been taken from them, after their arrest for illegally entering the country.

"All the women would start crying and would need to take a couple of minutes before being able to continue talking about it," Cornelio said.

This week, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department's Southern District of Texas said her office could not comment on the number of parents who had been separated from their children or how families were separated because of the zero-tolerance policy.

'It should never happen'

Children generally are separated from parents who are awaiting prosecution for crossing illegally, so prosecuting more parents will result in the separation of far more children from their parents at the border than before the policy took effect.

Those children become the charges of the Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (specifically, the Office of Refugee Resettlement).

James Clapper: Family separations hurt US' international image

  James Clapper: Family separations hurt US' international image Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned Wednesday that the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy that is resulting in thousands of children being separated from their families at the border hurts US standing in the world. Clapper told CNN's John Berman on "New Day" that the image of separating children from their parents at the border "is very disturbing to our friends and allies, and probably satisfying to our adversaries.""This is not good in any measure, particularly from the standpoint of international image," Clapper said.

KELLY: Safe to say that these zero tolerance policies – the separating parents from their children, deploying the National Guard troops at the border KELLY: Devin O’Malley, setting aside for the moment whether this policy will prove an effective tool or not to deter illegal immigration , is it cruel?

Trauma lingers from ' zero tolerance ' immigration policy that separates parents, kids. Border Separations are Simply Immoral - www.cagle.com. a ‘ zero tolerance ’ policy that would send parents attempting to cross the southern border to jail where Why shouldn’t we believe them when they say it?

In an interview with NPR last month, when asked what he would say to people who say it would be "cruel and heartless" to separate a mother from her children, White House chief of staff John Kelly said: "I wouldn't put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of -- put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long."

The administration said it seeks to reunite the families as much as possible after court proceedings, but it puts the onus largely on the parents to locate their children within government custody and seek their return.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration's policy last month.

"So, if you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we're going to prosecute you," Sessions told a gathering of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies. "If you're smuggling a child, we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally."

The new policy does not apply to asylum seekers who enter the United States through an official port of entry without paperwork; those people would only be placed into immigration proceedings.

Did the Obama Administration Separate Families?

  Did the Obama Administration Separate Families? In defending its "zero tolerance" border policy that has caused the separation of families, the Trump administration has argued that the Obama and Bush administrations did this too. That’s misleading. Experts say there were some separations under previous administrations, but no blanket policy to prosecute parents and, therefore, separate them from their children.“Bush and Obama did not have policies that resulted in the mass separation of parents and children like we’re seeing under the current administration,” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, told us.

Members of the House and Senate on Thursday condemned the Trump administration’s recent “ zero tolerance ” policy for unauthorized border crossers, saying in writing that the move has led to increasing numbers of children being ACLU Suit Over Immigrant Child Separations Can Proceed.

Many of the people at the center had just experienced the U.S. government’s new “ zero tolerance ” policy and the family separation resulting from it. Supporters say the new policy is necessary to enforce existing laws and could help stem a recent rise in unauthorized arrivals.

It has long been a misdemeanor federal offense to be caught illegally entering the country, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. But previous US administrations generally didn't refer everyone caught for prosecution. Those who were apprehended were put into immigration proceedings and faced deportation from the country, unless they qualified to pursue an asylum claim.

Supporters of the new program credited it with reducing the number of crossings and repeat offenders, while critics said it overwhelmed the courts and US attorneys' offices with low-level crimes that made it difficult to use resources to go after serious and dangerous crime, like drug smuggling and cartels.

Nogueras said he has seen a shift in the caseload. During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, public defenders in the federal courthouse in McAllen handled about 20 to 30 cases a day involving defendants facing charges for minor crimes, he said.

On Monday, public defenders handled 170 cases of undocumented immigrants who were charged with illegally entering the country and about 120 on Tuesday. At least 60 children have been separated from their parents over the past two days, according to the federal public defenders in McAllen.

"I'm outraged about it. I'm angry. It should never happen," Nogueras said. "I don't think that this represents the values of the American people."

CNN's Tal Kopan and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

Will the child-separation fiasco take down Stephen Miller? .
White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is the main architect of President Trump's hard-line immigration policy, and according to severalaccounts — including his own — he reveled in the incarceration of migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, viewing it as a tactical policy success. The public was so repulsed by the policy, however, that Trump folded. "The backlash over the policy has opened cracks in Miller's support network on Capitol Hill and among Republicans both inside and outside the White House, who have viewed the separation of migrant families as a huge political and policy misstep for the White House — and, for

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