Homeland Security Watchdog Claims US Were Unprepared For Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy
A report issued by the Homeland Security that has been made public claims that immigration officials admitted to struggling with trying to deal with the “zero tolerance” policy that was implemented by Trump this Summer, with many of the problems occurring at the Southwest border. It resulted in the separation of nearly 3,000 children from their parents as the Trump looked to minimise illegal immigration occurring in the country.
There was outrage due to the confusion for parents around why they were being separated from their children at the border without a clue of how to reach them as well as confusion with reuniting the families the policy was questioned by the high courts, calling for the families to be joined together again.
The report was conducted by investigators from the Homeland’s Security Office, take into account point of views from about 50 immigration employees, in addition to 17 parents and detainees who were separated from their families. Alternative data and documents were also reviewed to help compile the report.
The report outlines the difficulty of implementing poorly written immigration laws according to Homeland Security Officials. There was a large a mix-up between migrants crossing the border illegally and migrants who come to the ports legally to seek asylum.
Although crossing the border illegally had already been a criminal charge, a large part of Trump’s presidential campaign was to crack down on illegal immigration, hence the implementation of the large-scale family separation.
Back in May, President Donald Trump implemented a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that began criminally charging those who attempted to cross the Southwest border illegally, separating children from their parents and essentially splitting up families.
It prompted outrage worldwide and caused Donald Trump to sign an executive order to stop the separations from occurring. The Americal Civil Liberties Union ordered a lawsuit against the Trump Administration and courts ordered for families to be reunited. The process is still ongoing.
Lee Gelernt, the lead lawyer on the ACLU case claims that the Trump administration has caused trauma for life, with many parents being left with the possibility that they will never see their children ever again.
The policy outlined that the children were only meant to be held in facilities for around 72 hours before being transferred to Health and Human Service officials who manage the care of migrant children and are responsible for their welfare. However, there was one case where a child was kept for almost 25 days within a border control facility.
On average, from the research conducted as part of the report, on average children were spending around 65 hours in Border Control, which meant that the delay caused Border Control officers to steer away from their normal work. Rather than patrolling and monitoring the border, the officers had to mind and care for the children that were being detained.
There was also confusion around tracking and identifying parents, which meant reuniting the families became even more difficult. Children weren’t photographed, they weren’t identified by a wristband or another form of identifier.
Some parents were also not advised of the situation, gaining a lack of communication with immigration officials and their children according to the report.
This was all going on whilst zero tolerance was being enforced. It caused a rise in asylum seekers to the border which was rapidly filling holding facilities. This meant officers had to turn away some asylum seekers whilst space could open in the facilities which may have pushed asylum seekers to enter illegally.