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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

USA and the crisis with minors at the border

Por Feco

The doctrine of "zero tolerance" with irregular immigration imposed by Donald Trump has fallen victim to the lack of resources of the United States Administration. The Pentagon is setting up military bases to accommodate families, but once the technical problem is solved, the Trump Administration has another legal challenge, since children can not stay in a detention center for more than 20 days.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Monday in Texas at a meeting with journalists that he has given orders not to turn over to the criminal justice system those undocumented detainees accompanied by minors, unless they have a criminal record or are suspicious of abuse or mistreatment, as was previously done. The guideline will remain in effect while the government finds the legal form and adequate facilities to be able to process 100% of adults through criminal proceedings without separating them from their children. "We're not changing policy, it's just that we do not have enough resources," White House spokeswoman Sarah H. Sanders said at a news conference. It is known that the Administration of Trump had at least since April separated children of their family following the application of the doctrine "zero tolerance", by which any irregular immigrant was prosecuted as a criminal and, therefore, should be separated from their children, since children can not be detained in adult prisons. Nor, according to judicial criteria of the 1990s, can they stay in immigration detention centers for more than 20 days. The scandal generated by the drama of some 2,300 separated children in just two months made Trump rectify last Wednesday and announce that children would no longer be withdrawn from their relatives, but he assured that "zero tolerance" still stood.

That double message filled the border with confusion. Officially, nothing had changed and any undocumented immigrant had to be referred to the criminal justice system, but nobody explained to the agents how to do it without removing them from the minors. On Thursday, just the day after Trump retreated in the separation of children with an executive order, in the courts of McAllen (Texas), the center of the area with more irregular crossings, changes were already perceived. For example, that morning there were 17 people separated from their children who were about to be tried and sent to prison and, according to judicial sources, they were removed from the list of accused at the last moment. On Friday there were none. Immigration and Border Guard services do not have the capacity to house as many undocumented families as they arrive each day at the border (only the Rio Grande area, in the far southeast of Texas, receives between 10,000 and 20,000 undocumented immigrants a month), so for now, many of them will be released after the arrest with the commitment to appear before the court when they are sued in the future, explained McAleenan, as Reuters reports.

More than 538 children who had been separated from their parents have returned with them, according to data provided Monday by McAleenan. Some 1,800 are still without them. This figure does not include the thousands of migrant children who have come alone to the border over the years and who are in shelters throughout the United States. Let’s hope this situation might change soon.