Trump Administration Officials Correct the Record on Family Separation Crisis

Officials in the administration corrected House Democrats during a Tuesday morning hearing on how they painted the separation of members of the migrant family.s.

President Donald Trump has worked to stop illegal immigration and illegitimate asylum claims in this country.

But the administration implemented a policy in that effort that resulted in the separation of children from the adults who illegally brought them into the country. The adults and the children were and are not always family relatives.

The Judiciary Committee of the House hosted the hearing to hear about the situation from officials.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), taking a strident tone at the outset, went as far as to call the policy akin to “kidnapping” during the hearing.

He also chastised the administration from six months ago to the night before the hearing for requests for stonewalling documents.

He made clear that the point of the hearing was to hold the administration accountable.

“The House Judiciary Committee will seek to finally hold the administration accountable for its indefensible and repugnant family separation policy,” Nadler said. “Even now, months after the height of the crisis created by the administration’s implementation of its cruel, inhumane and anti-immigrant policies, basic questions remain unanswered.”

Nadler articulated four questions that he planned to ask the panel of experts: why the administration thought it was a good idea to separate families ; who was responsible for developing and implementing the policy ; what they were and are doing to bring together all separate families ; and what plans were and are in place to help traumatized children.

“The department did so in such a reckless way that it even failed to capture sufficient information to identify which child belonged to which parent,” Nadler said. “When a stranger rips a child from a parent’s arms without a plan to reunion them, that is called kidnapping. This administration is responsible for the harm suffered by thousands of children and their parents and must be held accountable.”

Trump first directed his administration to set guidelines and allocate resources in an executive order from the beginning of 2017 to immigration offenses around the southern border. In April 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo containing guidelines for prioritizing certain offenses, such as illegal entry.

Sessions later released another memo to implement a zero tolerance policy in April 2018 to prosecute illegal immigrants. During the hearing, James McHenry, director of the Department of Justice’s immigration review executive office, pushed back over the common claim that a family separation policy was implemented by the administration.

“Neither executive order 13767, nor the April 2017 memorandum, nor the April 2018 memorandum created a policy of family separation,” said McHenry. “The zero tolerance prosecution initiative is simple. It makes clear that those who violate our criminal immigration laws  are referred to prosecution by DHS.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees agencies that deal with immigration. When children were separated from adults, they were transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for care. The Trump administration has since made migrants applying for asylum wait on the other side of the southern border while their claims are processed so that they don’t disappear into our country while their claims are being processed.

Trump rescinded that policy soon after ; a later court case forced the administration to bring together many of the children separated from adults. In response to the court order, the administration was also forced to reunite children in a June 2018 class action lawsuit.

When the order was issued, Nadler questioned whether the agencies involved had been prepared. During a previous hearing on February 7, Kathryn Larin, acting director of the Government Accountability Office, said the agencies were not prepared for the initiative.

“We have the ability to track. We’ve always had the ability to track,” said Carla Provost, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, on Tuesday. “We did not have a searchable field prior to that time frame focused specifically on separated members of families. Every separation that was done back during that time and since has had alien registration numbers tied to the parent with the child.”

Many migrants who are caught illegally crossing the border then claim asylum. Under previous administrations, after claiming asylum, illegal immigrants were frequently released for a short time. In order to determine their claims, they were asked to return for a court date — with no guarantee they would appear.

Many adults have children with them; but the process to access asylum claims can usually take longer than officials are allowed to hold children. The Department of Homeland Security explained in February 2018 that the problem stems from a settlement agreement in 1997. The agreement put strict restrictions on holding a child for more than 20 days.

Approximately 98% of illegal border crossers were adults traveling alone in 2000. But nearly 40% of the illegal immigrant CBP officers apprehended in fiscal 2018 were children traveling by themselves or children travelling together with their parents.

In the past year, as large groups of migrants approached the border, the problem became even more complicated. Sometimes, as they are called, the migrant caravans have included thousands of migrants— with many seeking asylum. This surge of migrants has created tensions along the southern border and a controversial policy dispute between legislators. ers.

Trump and his administration have expressed concern over the nefarious individuals and entities who might and often are hidden among the caravans. The Department of Homeland Security confirmed in October that some individuals within the caravan are gang members or have significant criminal histories.

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