Immigration officials defend handling of family separations - Newswatch

SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Trump campaigned on the promise of building a border wall to deter illegal immigration and making Mexico pay for it. Mexico has refused.

The separation of undocumented families under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy is the result of a "deliberate" process that ultimately amounted to "official kidnapping and child abuse", Sen.

Also called to Capitol Hill are Jennifer Higgins, the associate director of Refugees, Asylum and International Operations at US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and White, who leads the effort to return more than 2,500 children to their parents. A federal judge in California is overseeing the reunification of those families under tight deadlines.

"Children were separated from their parents and referred as unaccompanied alien children when in fact they were accompanied", White said. The associate director of refugee, asylum, and global operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Higgins continued, "It's hard to put myself in the position of an individual who takes a unsafe journey in which their child could be harmed, let alone whether I would send my children". No. 2 Senate Democrat Richard Durbin of IL said he wanted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign, saying the policy shows "the extremes this administration will go to to punish families fleeing" frightful conditions, adding, "Someone in this administration has to accept responsibility". "Those children who have been returned to their parents will face psychological scars that may never heal, and over 700 children, who entered this country with a family member, remain alone in shelters all over the country without a discernible plan to reunite them now, or ever".

Finding a compromise, especially in an election year, will be hard.

"That's a hard question to answer, " said Jennifer Higgins, the associate director of refugee, asylum and worldwide operations at US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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On another issue concerning the treatment of migrant children, a federal judge Monday found that government officials have been giving psychotropic medication to children at a Texas facility without first seeking the consent of their parents or guardians, in violation of state child welfare laws. "But the moral outrage around family separations coming from nearly every corner of the American population I think is a compelling force to remind them to do their jobs".

The officials said they keep records of children in their custody and can document decisions by hundreds of detained parents to willingly leave the USA without their children, an assertion that has drawn skepticism from lawmakers. After an initial surge in 2014, the numbers have continued to rise, with over 106,000 members of family units apprehended so far in fiscal year 2018.

A series of court rulings and US laws prevent the government from keeping minors in prisons or detention centers for longer than 20 days. Albence described the Family Residential Centers where children separated from their parents are held by ICE as "summer camps". In an op-ed they co-authored for USA TODAY, the senators argued that those centers would be required to maintain "high humane standards".

"It's not your fault that Congress has been unable to come up with a more sensible system of ... enforcing our immigration laws", Cornyn said. Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked.

"The witnesses who testified (on Tuesday) couldn't answer some basic, serious questions about the implementation of the policy of separating parents and children with no plan to reunite them", said Sarah Turberville, director of the group's Constitution Project.

The Trump administration decries such policies as "catch and release".

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Toward the end of the hearing, Sen.

Democrats say there are simple ways to fix that.

Durbin used the hearing to call on Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security Secretary, to resign over the separations.

The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General concluded in a report in November that one of those programs, known as the Family Case Management System, showed remarkable success.

"Despite the public outcry and the review by the courts, the administration has demonstrated it can't be trusted to put the welfare of children above its own hardline views on immigration", said Sen.

The Trump administration ended that program a year ago. A government attorney said in court that the number had risen to 1,012 by Tuesday.

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Analysts said Republicans are moving quickly to resolve the funding issue out of political necessity, and the desire to keep voters focused on other issues - such as confirming Trump's nominee to the supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh. "No one, no matter what their immigration status, should have to suffer such abuse". Some migrants separated from their children have said they did not understand what they were signing.

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