Thursday, the administration of President Donald Trump continued to try to get out from under the issues they created with implementation of the zero tolerance policy by changing the rules as opposed to adhering to the guidance already in place.
The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced the Trump administration, rather than limit the length of child detention as prescribed by the Flores Settlement in 1997, would enact new regulations allowing them to detain children longer.
The decision is bound to result in further lawsuits the administration will probably lose, but in the meantime they can shelve family reunification and child detention deadlines.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated:
“Today, legal loopholes significantly hinder the Department’s ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country.”
“This rule addresses one of the primary pull factors for illegal immigration and allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress.”
In plain language, the legal loophole Nielsen addresses is the government requirement to not keep children in cages for extended periods. The pull factor she alludes to is parents seeking a better life for their children can be deterred with the knowledge that the life for their children in the United States will involve cages for an indeterminate period.
Which was the original purpose of the family separation and zero tolerance policy. If parents seeking to enter the United States for asylum or immigration know their children will definitely suffer, they may be less likely to come.
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered his federal prosecutors in the Department of Justice to handle all entry into the United States—without prior authorization—as a criminal matter. In the past, federal prosecutors could decide to not prosecute the crime and turn cases over to civil immigration courts for processing.
But what type of crime is entry into the United States without prior authorization?