Sessions’ Plan to Separate Families at the Border Crossing: Implications for Immigrant and their Families
The Trump administration is using increasingly aggressive tones about its immigration policy. On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that parents unlawfully crossing across the U.S. border with their kids can expect to be separated from their children: “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”
Sessions’ harsh talk comes just one week after he had announced that the Department of Justice would be sending 35 federal prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to help process the immense number of recent arrivals of Central Americans seeking entry at the U.S. border. Sessions emphasized the Trump administration’s goal of 100% enforcement of unlawful border crossings. All persons caught crossing illegally will be charged with “improper entry by an alien.” Those convicted face up to six months in prison.
Such enforcement marks a sharp change from previous border practices. Previously, individuals caught crossing illegally were usually sent back across the border without facing criminal charges—particularly if the person had no criminal record or previous immigration violations.
What does this new policy mean for immigrant families?
In practical terms, it means that if parents are caught illegally crossing the border, they are likely to be held in immigration jails to wait for a court hearing, while officials will send children under 18 to foster care or other facilities. According to the Washington Post, the Department of Health and Human Services is soon expected to visit four military installations in Texas and Arkansas to assess their suitability to house children.
Moreover, the LA Times states that: “The new policy is expected to send a flood of deportation cases—and legal challenges—into federal courts. It also could put thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and children in shelters, and is likely to strain an immigration system that has struggled to keep up with a surge in enforcement under President Trump.”
That said, the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency told reporters that the administration “does not have a blanket policy on separating families as a deterrent.” Another U.S. official noted that families seeking asylum and presenting themselves at official U.S. border crossings might stay together as they seek protected status.
The Trump administration’s tough stance shows the importance of immigrant families to consult with an immigration lawyer to help them enter or stay in the country lawfully.
The experienced immigration attorneys at Zanes Law are eager to help immigrant families protect their status and right to stay in the United States. If you are in need of immigration help, please contact us or call us at 844-666-8181 for a private consultation today.
To learn more about immigration attorney Doug Zanes, please visit his personal injury website at zaneslaw.com.