In a recent blog post on President Trump’s immigration policy titled “What Happens to Minor Non-Citizens Who Cross the Border Illegally?”, there is mention of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy,” which allows those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally to face criminal charges. This policy goes along with Trump’s main campaigning tactic, which was to protect and defend our borders. On April 6, 2018, the Trump administration implemented the “zero-tolerance policy” and began prosecuting those who crossed the southwest border illegally. Also, this original policy allowed for the separation of families. Children, some only about a year old, were forced to be separated from their parents. Many times, these children were held in different states, making visitation with their parents virtually impossible.
A recent press release announced that the administration amended its original policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border. On June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order that allowed families to be detained together. A statement from President Trump concluded that “it’s about keeping families together while ensuring we have a powerful border.”
This policy, however, does not reverse the original intent of the “zero-tolerance policy,” which was designed to charge those who crossed the border illegally with a misdemeanor. This new order also does not prohibit children from being detained.
This new policy allows families to stay together throughout the criminal proceedings and immigration process. It also allows for the prioritization of hearings for families. Currently, there is a federal court ruling, formally known as the Flores Settlement, that prohibits the U.S. government from detaining children for more than 20 days. However, this new policy has allowed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to file a request to modify the 1997 court ruling. With this, the Government wishes to amend the previous ruling and the new request would allow children to remain with their parents throughout the duration of the detainment and litigation indefinitely.
The more difficult part of this new policy is reuniting the children who were separated from their families with their family members. Originally, there was a deadline set forth by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw that indicated that the U.S. government had 14 days to reunite children under 5 with their families and 30 days to reunite all other children with their families. According to Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian, the government would not meet this deadline.
The delay is said to be caused by the extensive reunification process that begins with DNA testing to match up the children with their parents. It could take anywhere between two and three weeks to receive the results of the test and match up the families. Some lawmakers have argued that the use of DNA tests to find the parents should be stopped.
If you or a loved one is a non-citizen and are concerned about the possibility of deportation and the separation of your family, it is imperative that you consult an experienced New York immigration lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and help you find available pathways to citizenship with your family next to you. The New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP have years of experience representing clients in complex immigration cases. With two immigration law offices located in New York City and Clark, New Jersey, the firm’s attorneys are available to assist individuals throughout the tri-state area with their immigration matters. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York City immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.