Jul 30, 2019

ACLU: More than 900 migrant children separated from parents at border

Undocumented migrants waiting to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol on May 15 in McAllen, Tex. Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

ACLU lawyers told a federal judge on Tuesday that 911 migrant children have been removed from their parents since last year's court reunification order for separated families, the Washington Post reports.

What's happening: The ACLU urged the judge to clarify when family separation should be allowed, as the organization claims children are being separated for "minor alleged offenses," including traffic violations. The ACLU also asked the federal judge to block the Trump administration from continuing to separate families, per its Tuesday press release.

The backdrop: Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan testified on July 18 that Customs and Border Protection can remove a child from their parent or legal guardian when:

  • The parent or legal guardian poses a danger to the child
  • Is otherwise unfit to care for the child
  • Has a criminal history
  • Has a communicable disease
  • Is transferred to a criminal detention setting for prosecution for a crime other than improper entry to the U.S.
  • CBP is unable to confirm that the adult is actually the parent or legal guardian
  • The child's safety is at risk

McAleenan testified last month that 1 to 3 family separations "occurred out of approximately 1,500 to 3,000 family members apprehended each day," per the Post. He added that separations occur “under very controlled circumstances.”

  • He testified that "DHS rarely detains accompanied children and their parents or legal guardians for longer than approximately twenty days."
  • In at least one case, a migrant child has been detained by CBP in one facility for weeks. That report included instances of sexual abuse and degrading language by CBP officers, as well as unsanitary and crowded conditions.

The big picture: The federal government has reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly separated from their families at the zenith of the "zero tolerance" policy. Federal officials said it could take 2 years for them to identify those children, as they review 47,000 who were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and then discharged, per the NYT.

Go deeper: Thousands more migrant children may be separated than previously known

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Trump rule would indefinitely detain migrant kids with their parents

A migrant family jumps the wall to reach the U.S. Photo: David Peinado/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced a new rule on Wednesday that would allow migrant families who crossed the border illegally to be kept in detention centers long-term.

Why it matters: A decades-old court decision — the Flores agreement — has prevented the government from holding minors in detention for longer than 20 days. The new regulation would replace that and give the federal government more power in determining how to care for migrant minors and families in its custody. The rule was first proposed following the family separation crisis last year, and is certain to face legal challenges.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019

19 states and D.C. sue Trump administration over family detention rule

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Image

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with 18 other states and the District of Columbia, are suing the Trump administration over a new rule allowing migrant families to be kept in detention long-term, Becerra's spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Why it matters: This is the California attorney general's 13th immigration-related lawsuit against the Trump administration, the spokesperson told Axios. The case will ultimately be brought in front of California federal Judge Dolly Gee, who has already refused to grant President Trump's request to change the decades-old Flores settlement to allow families to be detained together longer than 20 days.

Go deeper: Trump rule would indefinitely detain migrant kids with their parents

Keep ReadingArrowAug 26, 2019

Scoop: Top Homeland Security aide resigns amid tensions with White House

McAleenan testifies at a House committee hearing in July. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan's top aide and spokesperson is resigning amid frustration in the White House over the Department of Homeland Security's handling of major policy rollouts and White House distrust of McAleenan and his inner circle, sources familiar with his resignation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Andrew Meehan's departure comes amid broader internal tensions between the White House and DHS leadership. President Trump is wary of McAleenan, whom he associates with the Obama administration, and his top aides, several current and former administration officials tell us. These sources say Trump has no intention of formally nominating McAleenan for a permanent position.

Go deeperArrowAug 22, 2019