Zero Tolerance Immigration Prosecutions – Families

The risks of crossing the Rio Grande and desert terrain, or hiding in stash houses or tractor trailers, are high for adults and even more deeply concerning for children.  Individuals who seek to enter the United States should do so at ports of entry.

The Attorney General directed United States Attorneys on the Southwest Border to prosecute all amenable adults who illegally enter the country, including those accompanied by their children, for 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), illegal entry.

Children whose parents are referred for prosecution will be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

The information below provides information about:

  • Care for children
  • Family communication processes
  • The removal process

Prosecution/Removal Proceedings

Individuals who are apprehended by Border Patrol are taken to stations for processing.

  • All individuals, including both adults and children, provide biographical information and, in many cases, fingerprints.
  • Border Patrol agents enter information into appropriate electronic systems of records, including information about the claimed or confirmed family relationship.

Individuals who are believed to have committed any crime, including illegal entry, will be referred to the Department of Justice and presented before a federal judge.

After the conclusion of any criminal case, individuals will be transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for appropriate immigration proceedings.

Any individual processed for removal, including those who are criminally prosecuted for illegal entry, may seek asylum or other protection available under law.

Alien children may also present an individual claim for asylum and depending on the circumstances, may undergo separate immigration proceedings.

Communication and Coordination for Families

Children in HHS ORR custody are provided with appropriate care, including medical care, mental health care, and educational programs. Children are normally held in a temporary shelter or hosted by an appropriate family.

While in HHS care, ORR begins the process of locating a sponsor for the child for discharge from federal custody.

  • A sponsor can be a parent, adult sibling, relative, or appropriate home that meets criteria for the safety of the child and continuation of any immigration proceedings.  A parent who is prosecuted and later released can be a sponsor and ask HHS to release his or her child back into his or her custody.
  • In Fiscal Year 2017, 90 percent of the children were released to a sponsor who was either a parent or close relative.

HHS and DHS work to facilitate communication between detained parents and their children in HHS care.

  • ICE is dedicating a facility as its primary family reunification and removal center.
  • Parents and legal guardians who have been criminally prosecuted and are awaiting removal will normally be detained there.
  • All ICE facility staff who interact with parents will receive trauma-informed care training.
  • ICE is augmenting mental health care staffing, to include trained clinical staff, to provide mental health services to detained parents who have been separated from their children.
  • ICE will work with detained parents to provide regular communication with their children through video teleconferencing, phone, and tablets.

HHS and ICE can take steps to facilitate family reunification for purposes of removal, consistent with federal law where the parent or legal guardian is capable of providing for the physical and mental well-being of the child and comports with the wishes of the parent or legal guardian.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/06/15/fact-sheet-zero-tolerance-immigration-prosecutions-families

DHS Announces Additional Visas for Foreign Workers to Assist American Businesses at Risk of Failing

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced on May 25, 2018, that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas will be available for the Fiscal Year 2018. In this determination, Secretary Nielsen determined there are not sufficient, qualified, U.S. workers available to perform temporary non-agriculture labor to satisfy the needs of American businesses in FY18. This allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year. Secretary Nielsen made this decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” said Secretary Nielsen. “I call on Congress to pass much-needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in the statute.  We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program.  As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”

The H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, is available starting April 1 through September 30.

On February 27, 2018, USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.

In the FY 2018 Omnibus, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to U.S. employers through September 30, just as it did in the FY 2017 Omnibus. In the intervening time since the enactment of the FY 2018 Omnibus, the Secretary consulted with the Secretary of Labor on the issue, in accordance with Congressional requirements, and developed this rule.

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