Despite the order and a federal judge’s later ruling, immigration officials are allowed to separate a child from a parent in certain cases — serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns. Those caveats were in place before the zero-tolerance policy that prompted the earlier separations at the border.
Immigration officials decide whether a child fits into the areas of concern.
“The welfare of children in our custody is paramount,” said
At its height over the summer, more than 2,400 children were separated. The practice sparked global outrage from politicians, humanitarians and religious groups who called it cruel and callous. Images of weeping children and anguished, confused parents were splashed across newspapers and television.
A federal judge hearing a lawsuit brought by a mother who had been separated from her child barred further separations and ordered the government to reunite the families.
But the judge,
“We are very concerned the government may be separating families based on vague allegations of criminal history,” Gelernt said.
According to the government data, from
During the budget year 2017, which began in
Waldman said the data showed “unequivocally that smugglers, human traffickers, and nefarious actors are attempting to use hundreds of children to exploit our immigration laws in hopes of gaining entry to
Thousands of migrants have come up from
The zero-tolerance policy over the summer was meant in part to deter families from illegally crossing the border. Trump administration officials say the large increase in the number of Central American families coming between ports of entry has vastly strained the system.
But the policy — and what it would mean for parents — caught some federal agencies off guard. There was no system in place to track parents along with their children, in part because after 72 hours children are turned over to a different agency, the
An October report by Homeland Security’s watchdog found immigration officials were not prepared to manage the consequences of the policy. The resulting confusion along the border led to misinformation among separated parents who did not know why they had been taken from their children or how to reach them, longer detention for children at border facilities meant for short-term stays and difficulty in identifying and reuniting families.
Backlogs at ports of entry may have pushed some into illegally crossing the