After strong backlash from Democrats, Republicans and the general public, President Donald Trump agreed to reverse his administration’s zero tolerance policy that called to separate families that tried to cross the border illegally.
“We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” Trump said on June 20 at the Oval Office. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
The president spoke at the press conference about having compassion for the families, some of which are trying to gain asylum.
However, we’ve gotten a better sense of how the Trump Administration is planning to deal with the undocumented immigrants in detention centers, away from their children, and the incoming undocumented immigrants that attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
This is how the Trump Administration plans to reunite an estimated 2,000-2,400 kids with their undocumented parents.
CREDIT: Twitter/ @TexasTribune
Three days after Trump officially said that he would reverse his own policy of separating families, his administration released information that details how they would go about reuniting them.
All reunifications will take place at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. Parents are informed that they can locate, and/or communicate with their child by calling the Detention Reporting and Information Line for assistance, which is staffed Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“The information provided by these parents to the call operators will be forwarded to Health and Human Services (HHS) for action,” the Office of Public Affairs states. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and HHS will coordinate a review of their custodial data to identify where each child is located, verify the parent/child relationship, and set up regular communication and removal coordination, if necessary.”
Furthermore, ICE has completed the following steps toward reunification:
“Implemented an identification mechanism to ensure on-going tracking of linked family members throughout the detention and removal process;
Designated detention locations for separated parents and will enhance current processes to ensure communication with children in HHS custody;
Work closely with foreign consulates to ensure that travel documents are issued for both the parent and child at time of removal; and
Coordinate with HHS for the reuniting of the child prior to the parents’ departure from the United States.”
That last sentence is where things get a bit complicated.
Reuniting families is only for adults that have agreed to be deported.
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and HHS have a process established to ensure that family members know the location of their children and have regular communication after separation to ensure that those adults who are subject to removal are reunited with their children for the purposes of removal.”
All of that means that if parents want to fight to gain asylum–which can take years–they will not be reunited with their children. If they wish to reunite with their children, they have to agree to return to their native country as a family unit.
The Office of Public Affairs also makes a point that some adults choose to be deported but not with their children. That means their kids will remain in U.S. custody until their court proceedings.
“We have people in there who are considering not continuing on with really strong asylum claims because they think they’ll get reunited with their kids faster if they give up their claim,” civil-rights lawyer Sirine Shebaya told the Washington Post.
This doesn’t mean all of the children in a U.S. immigration detention facility will ultimately be reunited with their family. The New York Times reports that thousands may continue to be processed without any family member.
One of the biggest factors that seems to concern President Trump is how much time and effort undocumented immigrants put on the judicial system. In order for undocumented immigrants to be properly processed, whether they are claiming asylum or being deported, they must still go through the courts and be processed as the law requires. But Trump would rather do away with all of that.
On June 23, a day after the reunification details were released, Trump tweeted that undocumented immigrants should be deported without due process.
“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” the president tweeted. “Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents. Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit — we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”
According to ABC News, Trump alleges that he’s been proposed to hire 5,000 judges in order to meet the needs of the influx of undocumented immigrants.
“They came into see me last week they said we’d like to hire 5,000 more judges. 5,000, have you heard of a thing like that?” Trump said, according to ABC News. “Where do you find 5,000 people to be judges?”
In response to Trump’s tweet about doing away with due process for undocumented immigrants, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “What President Trump suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional. Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally.”
By denying people due process, the Trump administration would be able to act without court interference. Due process is vital to a democracy, even appearing twice in the U.S. Constitution. It guarantees everyone their fair day in court to argue their side of a case. Without due process, people do not have a chance to state their case before a judge.