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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Sneaking ILLEGAL Families Face SEPARATION
Think twice before crossing!
Homeland Security could begin separating illegal immigrant mothers and children caught sneaking across the border, Secretary John F. Kelly said Monday, floating another get-tough proposal designed to make families from Central America think twice before making the treacherous journey north.
Stemming the surge of migrants is among President Trump’s top immigration goals, and his administration is searching for any answers to a problem that bedeviled President Obama. But this latest proposal enraged immigrant rights advocates, who say the children and families should be treated as refugees deserving compassion, not as illegal immigrants seeking to thwart American laws.
Mr. Kelly, speaking on CNN, said his goal is to try to keep people from making the trip at all.
“I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States,” he said.
Those who have made the journey report being beaten, robbed and raped. Some women who make the journey begin to take birth control ahead of time specifically to prevent pregnancy from rapes they expect along the way.
If Mr. Kelly pulls the trigger on the change, it would mark a major reversal in U.S. policy.
The Obama administration worked to keep families together, opening new detention facilities in order to be able to keep mothers and their children in the same place. But after federal courts fretted over the conditions in which children were kept, the Obama administration began to quickly process and release families, with the often vain hope that they would return for their deportation hearings.
Border Patrol officials have said that those lax policies served as enticements for the wave of illegal immigrant children and families streaming out of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Over the past five years, since Mr. Obama announced his 2012 deportation amnesty for young adult illegal immigrants known as Dreamers, some 227,000 unaccompanied children and 245,000 people traveling as families have been caught at the border.
The latest numbers suggest this year is shaping up to set a record.
The children, in particular, put burdens on agents, who have been relegated to what their chief called “professional child care duties” rather than patrolling the border. The federal government has paid millions of dollars to shuttle immigrant children inside the U.S., and the Health and Human Services Department has struggled to find sponsors to take in the children.
Those sponsors are often illegal immigrant parents already in the U.S. awaiting the arrival of their children.
If the administration follows through on Mr. Kelly’s proposal, it’s not clear who would take in the children if they arrive with a parent who gets detained. Children who don’t find sponsors to take them in the U.S. end up in dormitory-type detention homes.
The children could apply for protection in the U.S. even as their parents face deportation, immigrant rights advocates said.
Democrats said the proposed policy change stems from “xenophobia and racism.”
“Breaking apart families flies in the face of the ‘family values’ Republicans have campaigned on for decades,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. “This is just the latest terrible proposal from this disastrous administration, and any humane and decent person should reject it outright.”
The Women’s Refugee Commission said it already had seen some mothers separated from their children at the border and called it a “horrific trauma.”
“For some mothers, going back to what they are fleeing is not an option,” said Michelle Brane, director of the migrant rights program at the commission. “They feel they have no choice but to hope that by staying in detention, and letting their child be taken, that they might eventually be safe. The daily torture of sitting in detention, and not knowing what has become of their child is unimaginable.”
Mr. Kelly, though, said the answer is for families to not begin a journey that could end with the separation of children and parents.
“I’m considering it in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network,” he said. “I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.”