Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recently announced “zero tolerance immigration policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border” is counter to America’s immigration policy favoring family unification because it will ultimately divide more families than unify them.
May 7, 2018, the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions further indicated this administration’s position on immigration and families when he announced that the Department of Homeland Security will now refer 100% of its deportation proceedings for unlawful Southwest Border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
The new immigration policy uses child smuggling as a guise for separating families and prosecuting parents as a deterrent to border migration.
Sessions’ announcement states that, if you are smuggling a child, then the Department of Justice will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. In practice this means is that anyone bringing a child across the border will be treated as a child smuggler. Even when that child is your own.
Under current law, anyone crossing illegally into the country can be prosecuted, and the penalties are even stiffer if they attempt to enter the country after they have been deported.
Under the new directive, immigrants who are stopped by the Border Patrol or customs officers will be sent directly to a federal court by the United States Marshals Service. If they are convicted, the parent will be imprisoned for the duration of their sentences, after which time they could be returned to their countries of origin. First-time illegal entry is a misdemeanor that carries up to a six-month prison sentence. Repeat entry constitutes a felony and carries a penalty of up to two years imprisonment.
Children of these immigrants are left without parents.
During this time any accompanying children will then be placed in the custody of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. About 700 children, including 100 children four years old and younger, have been separated from their parents since October, according to the Department of Health and Human Services refugee office. Most recently the Department acknowledged that federal agencies have lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied migrant children placed with US sponsors.
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