The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Monday that the agency has temporarily stopped referring adults crossing the border illegally with children for criminal prosecution.
The temporary change in policy stems from the inability to separate families in order to prosecute the parents, the Washington Times reported Monday.
Border Protection halts prosecution referrals https://t.co/YvJkjJ8hnC
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) June 25, 2018
Commissioner Kevin McAleenan revealed to reporters during a press briefing in Texas that he ordered referrals to be suspended within hours of the President’s executive order last week, which stopped the practice of separating families.
Now, he says, the agency must develop a new plan to resume the prosecutions of adults with children.
McAleenan confirmed that the zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration remains in effect, but cases specifically involving adults connected to children cannot currently be handled.
President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order that ended the separation of migrant children from their parents who were detained.
Border Patrol must now figure out a new policy that allows for the prosecution of illegal immigrant families while keeping parents and children together – a difficult task that at present time allows for more leniency with those particular cases.
Before the President’s executive order, immigration policy dictated that children under the age of 18 were not allowed to be detained and prosecuted with their parents.
Instead, migrant children were temporarily separated while their parents navigated the legal process.
However, Border Patrol and the Trump Administration have been harshly criticized for their handling of the policy – a policy Trump’s administration did not create – and lack of transparency involving the current status of migrant children.
The Trump Administration has stressed that the facilities currently housing the migrant children are adequate, though the media have not been allowed to see much of the facilities over the past weeks.
The administration has also received backlash over reports that migrant children have been “lost” in the system. Some media outlets claim that children have been permanently separated from their families due to mishandling of cases.
Currently, more than 2,300 migrant children are being housed in various shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border, with some even being transported to other parts of the country.
The Pentagon this week is also examining the possibility of stationing more migrants children on military bases, and it has been reported that two bases in Texas will house temporary tent cities for migrant children.