Trump Administration Targets Families of Unaccompanied Children

August 22, 2017 Our CGRS team is deeply troubled by reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now targeting the parents and relatives of unaccompanied immigrant children for detention and deportation. In June, McClatchy revealed that Customs and Border Protection agents had begun sharing with ICE information obtained during interviews with unaccompanied children. ICE plans on using that information to identify and apprehend the children’s undocumented family members.

The Trump Administration claims that it is pursuing this strategy in order to disrupt human smuggling operations in Mexico and Central America, allegedly targeting parents who have paid criminal organizations to smuggle their children into the United States. But many parents turn to smugglers as a last resort because they fear that their children’s lives are at serious risk. They pay to have their children brought to the U.S.-Mexico border, because in many cases doing so is the only way to help them escape life-threatening violence at home. Criminalizing desperate parents living in the United States, who often also fled to save their lives, does nothing to dismantle organized smuggling operations south of the border. The only certain outcome of this initiative is that families will be separated and many children in immigration proceedings will be denied the loving care of a parent or guardian while they wait for their claims to be heard.

Photo from Tom Bravo, Reuters.