U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed a new initiative to disrupt the smuggling of children into the United States. According to The Independent, ICE has begun arresting sponsors who have paid organizations that help children enter the country illegally. The vast majority of those sponsors are parents and other U.S.-based relatives of unaccompanied children who cross the border.
Immigration agents are now sharing information with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents about the U.S.-based relatives of unaccompanied children. That information is being used to locate the parents.
According to The Monitor, in at least a dozen cases from New Jersey to Texas, the parents of unaccompanied children were visited at their homes by immigration agents who demanded to be let in. The parents were detained once they opened the door or left the house.
About 90 percent of unaccompanied children who cross the Southwest border are eventually put in the custody of a U.S.-based relative. In February, the Trump administration announced that parents who pay human traffickers to smuggle their children into the United States would be subject to prosecution, and that unaccompanied minors would no longer be protected against deportation.
That same month, new orders were issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that extended the number of immigrants who could be deported. According to Kelly, the increase in illegal immigration is overwhelming federal agencies and has created a national security problem.
Opponents of the new policy argue that it is separating families and causing fear in the immigrant community. In response to these criticisms, ICE Director Tom Homan stated that illegal immigrants are not supposed to feel comfortable, and regarding the separation of families, parents put themselves in that position when they cross the border illegally.
Immigration lawyers who oppose the new policy have pointed out that when children are waiting for their cases to go to court, they are usually cared for by the U.S.-based relatives who paid to bring them into the country. If those sponsors are deported, the children will have to remain in government custody.
The Obama administration focused deportation efforts on immigrants with criminal convictions and recent arrivals, but the Trump administration has expanded the definition of a “criminal immigrant” and has openly stated that illegal immigrants may be detained even if they have not committed a criminal offense.
Leon Fresco, who served under President Barack Obama as a deputy assistant attorney general in the civil division of the Justice Department, stated that the Trump administration is opening the door to lawsuits, because federal regulations place limits on the amount of time children can be detained.
If you or a loved one is facing a deportation crisis or needs help navigating U.S. immigration laws, turn to the Law Office of Eric M. Mark. Mr. Mark is a green card attorney in New Jersey who will compassionately represent your interests.
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