Migrant families still being separated?
This first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
President Donald Trump’s cruel policy of separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border was put in place last year to serve as a warning to people who were living in fear of gangs and other mortal dangers in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and who were considering seeking asylum in the U.S.
The policy was a simple one: If a migrant family crossed the border and asked for asylum, the parents would likely be sent to jail on misdemeanor criminal charges and the children farmed out. Even many of Trump’s staunch supporters balked, and Trump, under pressure, ordered it ended last June. A week later, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego banned family separations unless necessary for the safety of the child.
That reasonable accommodation has become a loophole. According to immigrant advocates, children are being taken from their parents based on long-ago convictions for crimes — such as driving under the influence — that would seem to have little or no bearing on whether the parents actually pose a risk. Families are also being separated on the mere suspicion that an adult is not really the parent.
The government acknowledged in court filings that it has separated 389 families since Sabraw’s court order, but immigrant rights advocates argue say the number is much, much higher. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Congress last week that immigration officials are separating fewer than two families a day out of more than 1,600 families that arrive. But advocates report at least 40 separations a day along the California section of the border alone.Judge Sabraw should take steps to ensure that his order against unnecessary separations is being observed.
The Trump administration has failed utterly to come up with workable and legal strategies for dealing with the arrival and lawful asylum requests of tens of thousands. Many of them will ultimately not qualify. But they have a right to ask, and inhumane efforts to slam the door run counter to the law and to our international obligations.
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