Jeff Sessions: Children will be separated from parents at the border if crossing illegally.
President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice announced plans Monday to begin separating parents and children at the border, a change from a long-time immigration policy which, generally, allowed them to stay together while the government processes their cases.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a Monday address at the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies’ 2018 spring conference. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
That means parents will likely face prosecution while their children remain in detention at a “separate refugee facility,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
As Jennifer Quigley, an advocacy strategist at Human Rights First, explained to Newsweek last week, previously mothers with children seeking asylum would have been released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention after their “credible fear” interviews. Flores v. Reno, a 1985 class action lawsuit, dictated that children and minors must be kept in the “least restrictive setting” available, which typically meant the government would release them from custody along with their mother. Together, they would wait for months, or sometimes years, for their day in court to plead their case for asylum before an immigration judge, due to an extensive asylum backlog.