In one of the many, many tweets attempted to address outrage at his administration’s policy of separating and detaining children and families of immigrants at the border, President Donald Trump yelled, “CHANGE THE LAWS!” Trump didn’t specify which laws, specifically, he wanted changed, adding to confusion and speculation about immigration laws and policies when it comes to children and families.
In an effort to hopefully clarify which laws apply to those attempting to immigrate and those seeking asylum, and the policies put in place by the Trump administration that separate immigrant children from their parents, here is a roundup of our posts on the topic.
There is no federal statute that requires immigration officials to separate children from their parents at the border. It is part of a zero-tolerance policy first floated, then implemented by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The policy was designed to deter families fleeing violence and poverty in Central American countries from attempting to enter the country. As such, the policy does not require new laws to be enacted in order for it to come to an end.
Additionally, the policy may be unconstitutional. A federal judge this month refused to dismiss an ACLU lawsuit challenging the policy, saying that separating children from the families is “brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.”
Normally, if a person had entered the country illegally, they could be temporarily detained before being deported. But that process is a little more complicated, and has become even more so under Sessions’ order for “100 percent” enforcement of illegal border crossings. Whereas undocumented immigrants would simply be deported, they now may face criminal charges and criminal penalties, included six months of incarceration.
There can be advantages to family immigration, if a close relative is already a citizen or legal permanent resident. There remain some legal hurdles, however.
We have even more resources for families trying to get the most accurate legal information regarding immigration. If you have more questions about your immigration status, or the laws or policies that affect detention or separation of families, contact an experienced immigration attorney in your area.