Trump Announces Deal with Mexico on Migration, Says Tariffs Will Not Be Imposed

President Donald Trump dropped a threat to impose tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Mexican goods entering the country if Mexico didn’t do more to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the nation’s southern border.

The President made the announcement yesterday on Twitter.

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border,” the President wrote.

“This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!” he added.

The President had threatened to impose 5% tariffs on Mexican goods entering the U.S. unless Mexico did more to prevent migrants from coming up through Mexico from Central America to try and gain entry into the U.S.

Mexico announced it would be sending 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala to try and stanch the flow of migrants.

The U.S. State Department announced in March that it would discontinue financial aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala if those countries didn’t do more to check migration.

The deal announced last night did not include the details of financial aid to the countries in question, but Mexican officials said they were pleased with the agreement.

“I think it’s a fair balance,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said last night, addressing reporters from outside the U.S. State Department, “because they had more drastic measures proposed at the start and we agreed to some middle point.”

President Trump had originally threatened to increase the tariffs by 5% for every month Mexico failed to reach a deal, until it reached 25% on October 1.

Photo by Wikimedia

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U.S. to Now Require Social Media Histories from Visa Applicants

The U.S. will now require all persons applying for visitors’ visas to provide social media usernames, previous email addresses as well as phone numbers for additional inspection. It’s a significant expansion of the United States’ vetting process for potential visitors.

“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”

The movie is expected to effect 15 million people who apply for U.S. visas each year.

The increased vetting was first proposed in March of last year.

In the past, digital histories had only been required from individuals designated for extra security, such as person who had recently traveled to areas controlled by known terrorist organizations. An estimated 65,000 people had fallen into that category.

In addition to social media usernames and passwords, applicants will now be asked for additional information such as five years of previously used telephone numbers, international travel and deportation status and whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.

Only certain diplomatic and official visa types will exempt from the extra scrutiny.

Photo by Stacey MacNaught via Flickr

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Kirstjen Nielsen Out as Homeland Security Secretary

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned her post Sunday. The announcement was made by President Trump on Twitter.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service…” the President wrote on Twitter. In a subsequent tweet the President said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will become the acting DHS secretary until a permanent one is confirmed by Congress.

Nielsen and the President have never enjoyed a strong working relationship but the move was nevertheless unexpected. It is seen as one step in a larger shakeup of leadership at the Department. The White House is said to be bringing in a team that will take a harder-line stance on immigration.

Apprehensions along the southern border are expected to have surged to 100,000 last month. Nielsen was considered by some in the West Wing, including the President himself, to be reluctant to implement some of the President’s tougher immigration initiatives, including those that challenged current law.

Nielsen, in her resignation letter and later comments to reporters, reiterated her support for the President and his policies on securing the southern border. “I will continue to support all efforts to address the humanitarian and security crisis,” she said.

“I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse,” she added.

Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol via Flickr

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The President Declares a National Emergency Seeking Funds for Southern Border Wall

Citing a humanitarian crisis on the southern border, President Trump declared a national emergency yesterday from the White House. The declaration would allow the President to repurpose funds for the construction of a border wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The federal government shut down for a record 34 days over December and January over an impasse between the White House and Democrats in Congress over funding for the wall. The stalemate ended when President Trump agreed to a short-term funding resolution reopening the government for 3 weeks while a bipartisan conference committee negotiated a deal on border security.

That committee reached an agreement this week, but it provided $1.375 billion for construction of barriers along the southern border – substantially less than the $5.7 billion the White House requested. The amount was even less than the $1.6 billion contained in the Democrats’ offer to the President in December, before the shutdown.

President Trump, however dissatisfied with the agreement reached, indicated he would sign the spending bill, funding the government through the end of the fiscal year (September 30), and look for funds for the wall elsewhere.

The Trump administration as identified about $8.1 billion in funds available for use for the border wall, which includes $1.375 billion from the spending bill approved this week and around $6.7 billion in reprogrammed funds.

By declaring a national emergency the President says he can reallocate $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, up to $2.5 billion from a Department of Defense counternarcotic activities fund and up to $3.6 billion from Department of Defense military construction projects.

The President downplayed the effect reprogramming the funds would have on military readiness.

“We had certain funds that are being used at the discretion…of the military. Some of them haven’t been allocated yet, and some of the generals think that this is more important,” the President said during a press conference from the Rose Garden.

“I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for. I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ And I won’t go into details, but it didn’t sound too important to me,” he added.

Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, Congress can pass a resolution striking down the declaration. That resolution would likely be vetoed by the President however and it is unlikely there are enough votes in Congress to override such a veto.

The President’s announcement, while not unexpected, drew criticism from congressional Democrats.

“The President’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defense funds for the security of our military and our nation,” read a joint statement issued by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,” the statement added.

Some in the President’s own party also voiced concern about the move.

“Unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called the move.

“It is…of dubious constitutionality,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, echoing warnings from Democrats that the step sets a dangerous precedent.

“Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal. I will wait to see what statutory or constitutional power the president relies on to justify such a declaration before making any definitive statement. But I am skeptical it will be something I can support,” he said.

Not all Republicans are against the move however. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for example, has been calling for the President to declare a national emergency since January.

Importantly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he is in agreement with the President. “I’ve indicated to him that I’m going to support the national emergency declaration,” McConnell said from the Senate floor Thursday in making the announcement.

In addition to the congressional resolution, Democrats are likely to mount legal challenges against the declaration. Constitutional experts agree the Democrats’ case would be on sound legal footing, as the Constitution grants the power of purse solely to Congress.

President Trump acknowledged the tricky road ahead should such challenges come but said ultimately he will prevail.

“I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office…and then we will be sued…and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling. And then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court…and we’ll win in the Supreme Court,” the President said.

Photo by The White House

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Government Shutdown Likely to Extend Into 2019

President Donald Trump said he was not sure when the government would be open but said the government would but vowed not to reopen it until Congress approves funding for a wall along America’s southern border with Mexico. The President made the comments when speaking with reporters on Christmas Day after a video teleconference with members of the U.S. military.

“I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen. I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want. But it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into our country,” the President said.

The Federal Government has been shut down since Saturday as Congress and the White House failed to come to terms on spending bills that would have kept the government operating. At the heart of the impasse is funding for a wall along the southern border, a promise at the center of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Congress, specifically Congressional Democrats, approved spending that would keep border security funding at last year’s levels – $1.3 billion. They contend however that those funds are for overall border security and have remained adamant that no additional funding will be provided specifically for the President’s border wall. They have since revised their proposed funding levels to downward to $1.3 billion for next year.

Democratic votes are required for any funding bills to be passed by Congress as Republicans lack the required number of votes, sixty, to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. The White House wants at least $5 billion to begin construction on the wall and have requested that amount be included in any new spending bills that pass Congress and arrive at the President’s desk for signature.

On Sunday, the President’s new Chief of Staff, Office of Management and Budget Director and former Congressman Mick Mulvaney, indicated it is very likely the shutdown will extend beyond December 28, and into the new Congress. The Senate is adjourned until Thursday which sets as the end of the week the earliest a compromise can be reached.

But Mulvaney also indicated that the White House has extended a new offer to Congressional Democrats to break the deadlock.

“Yes, I will tell you this, they’re [at] 1.3 [billion dollars]. Yesterday, we are at $5 billion a couple of days ago. And the counteroffer that we give them yesterday was between those two numbers….We moved off of the five and we hope they move up from their 1.3,” Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday.

That offer however, was rejected by Congressional Democrats.

Democratic leadership, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi put out a joint statement yesterday assailing President Trump for not having a clear vision as to how to end the stalemate.

“It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos. The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense,” they wrote.

“Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, he’s continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts. Meanwhile, different people from the same White House are saying different things about what the president would accept or not accept to end his Trump Shutdown, making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment. The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it,” they added.

Adding to the confusion is the uncertainty over what is meant by the term “border wall.” The President tweeted out a picture of a steel slated fence with points at the top as an example of the barrier he wants funding for. “A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful!” the President’s message read.

Mulvaney also alluded to the steel fence and said Democrats were being disingenuous in asserting that no funds will be directed to a “border wall” when funds have already been offered for the construction of the steel slated fencing.

“It’s important that everyone understands the language that everyone is using. The president tweeted out a picture yesterday…the steel slated fence with a pointed top…that’s what we want to build. And in the Democrats’ mind, that is not a wall,” Mulvaney said.

“So they have offered this $1.3 billion to build the barrier that we want but then they go on TV and say there’s no money for a wall. We’ve already told the Democrats we want to build what the president tweeted out. It doesn’t have to be a 30-foot high concrete,” he added.

The President said during an Oval Office meeting with Schumer and Pelosi two weeks ago that he would take full responsibility for any shut down that occurred over construction of the barrier on the border.

“If we don’t get what we want through you or through military or anyone you want to call, I will shut down the government,” the President told Schumer referring to a wall.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it…I will take the mantle for shutting down. I’m going to shut it down for border security,” he went on to say.

Last week the Senate passed a continuing resolution that would have kept the government funded until February 8, 2019. No additional funding beyond last year’s levels were included in the measure for border security. The President had indicated that he would sign such a “clean” spending bill ahead of Friday’s deadline to keep the government open.

The President however was roundly criticized by conservatives, most notably conservative media, for agreeing to Democratic demands.

“It looks like a lot of people’s worst fears may be realized and …

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Federal Judge Says DACA Must be Reinstated

A federal judge has ruled the reasons the Trump administration has given for ending the immigration program known as DACA are inadequate, and ordered the program reinstated.

In his opinion, U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates wrote the federal government had failed to “elaborate meaningfully on the…primary rationale for its decision” to end DACA. Namely, “that the policy was unlawful and unconstitutional.”

Bates struck the decision to end the program down in April but gave the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency responsible for overseeing DACA, ninety days to adequately answer the Court’s concerns.

In the interim DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen did issue an additional memo on the DACA program rescission that articulated additional policy grounds, but of most them “simply repackage legal arguments previously made, and hence are ‘insufficiently independent from the agency’s evaluation of DACA’s legality’ to preclude judicial review or to support the agency’s decision,” Bates wrote, citing a previous decision on DACA.

Judge Bates acknowledged the tough situation the government was in: it could not rely on past arguments to get a ruling in its favor but also could not propose new ones that were inconsistent with the original ones. “The government’s attempt to thread this needle fails,” Bates wrote.

Importantly, Bates points out that he was not challenging DHS’ authority to end the program. He was only ruling that it hadn’t explained why it was necessary to do so. “The Court…does not hold today, that DHS lacks the statutory or constitutional authority to rescind the DACA program. Rather, the Court simply holds that if DHS wishes to rescind the program—or to take any other action, for that matter—it must give a rational explanation for its decision,” Bates wrote.

“A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do.”

DACA grants deferment from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country illegally at a very young age. There are an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients.

President Trump has expressed a desire to find a permanent solution for DACA recipients, and earlier this year Republican lawmakers unveiled a plan that would provide citizenship for up to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors – three times the number immigration advocates were calling for.

Democrats in Congress rejected the plan however because in return Republicans demanded $25 billion for border security, including funding for a border wall.

Photo by Molly Adams via Flickr

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Reunifications for Children Under 5 Complete Administration Says

The Trump administration has successfully reunited all eligible immigrant children under the age of 5 it was announced today. The heads of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice issued a joint statement this morning making the declaration.

“Dedicated teams at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of Ms. L class members. As of this morning, the initial reunifications were completed,” the statement read.

“Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families. The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly, and we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families,” it added.

The administration announced a policy in April by which any individual apprehended crossing illegally into the United States would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They would be prosecuted in federal court for illegally entering the country instead of being released in the U.S. with a promised hearing by an immigration judge at some future point.

American immigration laws create an incentive for individuals, especially unaccompanied minors, to make the trip to the U.S. under treacherous conditions. If they make it and claim a “credible fear” of returning home to war-torn countries or countries ravaged by crime and gang violence, they are almost assured the ability to stay in the country.

An inordinate backlog of asylum cases means it may take years before their case is heard and they are asked to prove that claim. Many never return to the courts to do so even when their case is called.

Over the last ten years there has been a 1,700% increase in asylum claims according to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, resulting in a backlog of over 600,000 cases.

The zero tolerance policy resulted in the separation of young children from their parents and guardians as the adults were prosecuted for crossing illegally while the children were not.

The separations turned into a humanitarian crisis as pictures soon emerged of children held in cages sleeping under aluminum “heatsheets” to keep them warm. The publication of audio recordings of children crying out for their parents after being separated and revelations of “tender-age” detention facilities where those children and babies younger than 5 years old were being held alone, fueled a political backlash.

Last month President Trump signed an executive order directing DHS to reverse its separation policy. According to DHS, some 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and guardians and placed in detention centers since April. The agency is now working to reunite those families.

According to HHS, DHS and the DOJ, there were 103 children under the age of 5 that were affected by the policy. Of those, 57 have been reunited with their families as of 7 A.M. this morning, the agencies said. The remaining forty-six children were deemed ineligible by a court for reunification. Reasons for that ineligibility include adults who are incarcerated, have a serious criminal history or have been deported.

“Our agencies’ careful vetting procedures helped prevent the reunification of children with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child,” the joint statement read.

Despite the reunifications however, the Trump administration reiterated its stance that individuals who cross the border illegally will prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The zero-tolerance policy remains in effect.

“Certain facts remain: The American people gave this administration a mandate to end the lawlessness at the border, and President Trump is keeping his promise to do exactly that. Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn,” the agencies said.

Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

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Is the U.S. Army Quietly Discharging Immigrants?

Individuals who enlisted in the army through a program that expedited their citizenship have been quietly discharged in recent weeks leading to speculation that the Trump administration is slowly revoking their status in addition to having suspended the program in recent months.

The story was first reported by The Associated Press.

Former President George W. Bush created a program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, in 2002 in an effort to quickly grow the military’s ranks. The country was still recovering from the September 11th attacks and was about to begin the Iraq War.

The idea behind MAVNI was to bring medical specialists and speakers of forty-four in-demand languages into the military so the Department of Defense could “recognize their contribution and sacrifice.” MAVNI called for “expedited naturalization” for immigrant soldiers. Seven years after it was created it became an official recruitment program.

The program became controversial during the Obama administration when former President Barack Obama added DACA recipients to the program’s eligibility. (DACA recipients are undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country illegally but at a very young age.)

The armed forces, in its response, added several layers of security before enlistees could be accepted into the program. The Trump administration added several more security hurdles resulting in a backlog at the DoD, before ultimately suspended the program altogether last year.

The AP was not able to determine the exact number of those affected by the decisions but attorneys put the number at more than forty enlistees who have either been discharged or whose status has become uncertain.

“It was my dream to serve in the military,” said reservist Lucas Calixto. “Since this country has been so good to me, I thought it was the least I could do to give back to my adopted country and serve in the United States military.”

“Now the great feeling I had when I enlisted is going down the drain,” he added. “I don’t understand why this is happening.”

Calixto, 28, came to the U.S. when he was 12, and lives in Massachusetts. He says he found out he had been removed from the Army after being recently promoted to private second class.

He has since filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon, alleging he was not given the change to defend himself or appeal. The DoD gave him no reason for his discharge other than “personnel security,” he says.

Other immigrants, one from Pakistan and one from Iran for example, have also been discharged in recent weeks. Both said they were told that ties to family members living abroad were reasons for their dismissals.

“There were so many tears in my eyes that my hands couldn’t move fast enough to wipe them away,” the Pakistani service member said. “I was devastated, because I love the U.S. and was so honored to be able to serve this great country.”

“It’s terrible because I put my life in the line for this country, but I feel like I’m being treated like trash. If I am not eligible to become a U.S. citizen, I am really scared to return to my country,” said the Iranian enlistee.

Both asked their names be withheld because of the belief that if they are forced to return to their native countries they may face reprisal for joining the U.S. military.

The Pentagon told the AP that “All service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.”

But attorneys for the immigrants say that the ones who were let go were given an “uncharacterized discharge,” – neither dishonorable nor honorable.

More than 5,000 immigrants joined the Armed Forces through the program in 2016. An estimated 10,000 are currently serving. Most are in the Army, but there are some in the other military branches as well.

The change in status of the MAVNI program was welcomed by some on Capitol Hill. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who has supported legislation limiting the program, said MAVNI was created by executive order and never authorized legislatively by Congress, therefore it should be scaled back.

“Our military must prioritize enlisting American citizens, and restore the MAVNI program to its specialized, limited scope,” he told the AP.

Photo by U.S. Air Force

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U.S. Government Creates De-Naturalization Task Force

The government agency responsible for granting citizenship to immigrants has created a task force to strip those individuals of their citizenship. The group, a so-called denaturalization task force, has as its aim stripping individuals who are found to have lied on their citizenship documents of their legal status.

Specifically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna says the team will be looking at individuals who are suspected of using fake identities to get green cards and then obtain citizenship through naturalization.

The announcement was made in an interview Cissna granted The Associated Press last month.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place,” he said. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

To date, USCIS had been pursuing such individuals on a case-by-case basis. The new effort would be coordinated, and the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice. DOJ attorneys would seek to revoke individuals’ U.S. citizenship in civil court proceedings if warranted, and could even bring criminal charges related to fraud.

Cissna hopes to have the task force’s new office, located in Los Angeles, operational by next year.

In September 2016, an internal government report found 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who had been deported or had been convicted of crimes, had not been properly entered into a Department of Homeland Security database used to the check identities of new immigrants.

That same report found 800 cases of immigrants who had been deported under one name but later obtained U.S. citizenship under another.

A New Jersey man was stripped of his citizenship in January, for example, on the grounds that he provided a false name to authorities to avoid deportation. The man, Baljinder Singh, had lived in the U.S. for 25 years.

Authorities say that when Sing arrived in the US from his native India in 1991 he was carrying no identification with him. He gave authorities the name Davinder Singh. After failing to appear in immigration court in January 1992, a judge ordered him deported. Singh then filed an application for asylum under the name Baljinder the next month and married a U.S. citizen.

Singh became a permanent resident in 1996, and a citizen in 2006. But he never disclosed his prior deportation order in his paperwork, prosecutors say. The Justice Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services filed the civil denaturalization complaint against Singh in September 2017.

Immigration activists assert that there are valid reasons some immigrants might be listed under different names. Many immigrants, especially from Latin American countries, have multiple surnames, for example.

Cissna says the Trump administration is not interested in those type of cases.

“The people who are going to be targeted by this — they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on. It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them,” Cissna said.

Photo by U.S. Coast Guard via Flickr

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Arrests on the Border Down 18% Because of Zero Tolerance, Administration Says

Illegal border crossings were down 18% in June compared with May according to the Department of Homeland Security. The agency credits its zero-tolerance policy for the drop in migration numbers.

“Following the implementation of the Administration’s zero-tolerance policy, the June 2018 Southwest Border Migration numbers declined by 18 percent when compared to the previous month,” the agency said.

“DHS will continue to enforce the rule of law and uphold our nation’s immigration laws as passed by Congress,” wrote DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton in a statement emailed to ITN.

“As we have said before, the journey north is dangerous and puts individuals in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. We continue to call on Congress to address the crisis at the border by closing legal loopholes that drive illegal immigration.”

The administration announced a policy in April by which any individual apprehended crossing illegally into the United States would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They would be prosecuted in federal court for illegally entering the country, instead of being released in the U.S. with a promised hearing by an immigration judge at some point in the future.

American immigration laws create an incentive for individuals, especially unaccompanied minors, to make the trip to the U.S. under treacherous conditions. If they make it and claim a “credible fear” of returning home to war-torn countries or countries ravaged by crime and gang violence, they are almost assured the ability to stay in the country, albeit temporarily.

An inordinate backlog of asylum cases means it may take years before their case is heard and they are asked to prove that claim. Many never return to the courts to do so even when their case is called.

Over the last ten years there has been a 1,700% increase in asylum claims according to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, resulting in a backlog of over 600,000 cases.

The zero tolerance policy resulted in the separation of young children from their parents and guardians however, as the adults were prosecuted for crossing illegally and the children were not.

The separations turned into a humanitarian crisis as pictures soon emerged of children held in cages sleeping under aluminum “heatsheets” to keep them warm. The publication of audio recordings of children crying out for their parents after being separated and revelations of “tender-age” detention facilities where children and babies younger than 5 years old, as well as special needs children, were being held alone, fueled a political backlash that proved to be too much the White House to bear.

Last month President Trump signed an executive order directing DHS to reverse its separation policy. According to DHS, some 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and guardians and placed in detention centers since April. The agency is now working to reunite those families.

The zero-tolerance policy however, remains in effect.

Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Flickr

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