Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by U.S. authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials.
The Refugee Crisis in the Americas
Part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children, said the officials, who have been briefed on the proposal.
The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the “least restrictive setting” until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian.
Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.
President Donald Trump has called for ending so-called “catch and release,” in which migrants and refugees who cross illegally are freed to live in the United States while awaiting legal proceedings.
About 54,000 children and their guardians were apprehended between Oct. 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017, more than double the number caught over the same time period a year earlier.
Republicans in Congress have argued women are willing to risk the dangerous journey with their children because they are assured they will be quickly released from detention and given court dates set years into the future.
Immigrant rights advocates have argued that Central America’s violent and impoverished conditions force mothers to immigrate to the United States and that they should be given asylum status.
The policy would allow Department of Homeland Security, DHS, to detain parents while complying with a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals order from July 2016 that immigrant children should be released from detention as quickly as possible. That order said their parents were not required to be freed.
To comply with that order, the Obama administration implemented a policy of holding women and children at family detention centers for no more than 21 days before releasing them.
Implementing the new policy proposal “could create lifelong psychological trauma,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director at the National Immigration Law Center. “Especially for children that have just completed a perilous journey from Central America.”
Hincapie said the U.S. government is likely to face legal challenges based on immigration and family law if they decide to implement the policy.
DHS Secretary John Kelly last week ordered immigration agents to deport or criminally prosecute parents who facilitate the illegal smuggling of their children.
French Presidential Candidate Fillon’s Campaign Chief Resigns
The campaign chief of embattled presidential candidate Francois Fillon resigned on Friday, dealing another blow to the former prime minister who has seen party grandees quit his campaign one after the other in the past few days.
Patrick Stefanini will carry out his functions until the end of a rally of supporters to be held in Paris on Sunday, Fillon’s team said in a statement. He will be replaced on Monday by Vincent Chriqui.
Fillon, who turns 63 on Saturday, this week promised to fight “to the end” despite a scandal over his wife’s pay, which he learned this week could see him placed under formal investigation for misuse of public funds later this month.
He denies any wrongdoing.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and her Palestinian counterpart Riad al-Malk pledged to reinvigorate, deepen and strengthen bilateral relations, signing cooperation agreements in areas such as education, economy, trade, energy, agriculture, culture, tourism, communication, sports, defense and health.
At a meeting in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas Thursday, Rodriguez reaffirmed her country’s support for the people of Palestine, highlighting the Palestinian struggle against illegal Israeli occupation whose zionist and expansionist policies forced the exile of some two million Palestinians and has narrow the country to the occupied Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights.
The Palestinian foreign minister expressed his country’s warm feelings toward Venezuela and assured that Palestine identifies with Venezuela in the struggles and issues that the country advocates in defense of its people.
“The solidarity and support we receive from Venezuela are very important,” the Palestinian foreign minister told a news conference. Speaking on behalf of his people, al-Malki expressed his appreciation for the work done by Venezuela when the South American country held the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council.