By Ana Milena Male
Trump signed an executive order today that will allow children illegally crossing the border to remain with their parents in detention centers, so they will no longer be separated from their parents while they are being criminally prosecuted.
The former director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Sandweg today recommended the release under electronic supervision of parents who were separated from their children by the Trump Administration to expedite reunification with minors.
"Those children need to be reunited with their parents immediately, before the damage is greater, and even that the separation is permanent," Sandweg warned in an interview with EFE after President Donald Trump announced that he would sign a bill to suspend the separation of families.
Subsequently, the Republican president signed an executive order that will allow children crossing the border with their parents to stay with them in immigration detention centers for a long period of time, a source told the White House.
This decision aims to put an end to the criticism at national and international level that the Government has been subject to for separating children who joined their families along the southern border since six weeks ago announced the beginning of their "zero-tolerance" policy with illegal immigrants.
The former director of the immigration control agency said that the different legal proceedings faced by at least 2,342 immigrant children who have been separated from their parents between May 5 and June 9, according to official figures, could keep them separated for months and even years.
Many of these household heads could be deported and their children remain in the United States while their immigration status is defined, he explained.
As an example of the bureaucratic obstacles faced by the current Government, the lawyer explained that children separated from their parents are currently under the supervision of the Office for the Relocation of Refugees (ORR), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Permanent separation (between parents and children). It happens," said Sandweg, who served as interim director of ICE under the Obama Administration 2013-2014.
The current situation is so worrisome that even children who remain in the foster care system for long periods of time can be taken into state custody and eventually adopted, he said.
"This is the reason why the family unit was fundamental for the Obama Administration, we always worry that migrant children will not be left behind," he said.
Sandweg, who knows the detention centers where the White House wants to keep them in detention for a long period of time, warns that these facilities are no place for children and that the best way for the current Government is to let these families be subject to supervised release programs or wear electronic bracelets.
"At the end of the day we do not need to have these people detained with their children. 99.6% of the immigrants who have been subjected to supervised release appear in court," he said.
The president today defended his “zero-tolerance” policy and his goal of having a "powerful border", but for the former director of ICE the Government's insistence to keep families, after being reunified, in detention centers or even in camps on military bases will bring new problems.
"The work of the Border Patrol and ICE will end up being affected by these decisions," he said.
The Trump administration could also face legal problems by keeping these families detained for a long time, as it would challenge the judicial agreement known as "Flores" that states that minors are only allowed to be detained at the border for 20 days.
Although the government shielded itself by ensuring that it complied with the rules established by separating families, Sandweg reiterated that there is no law that obliges this practice.
"Hopefully this is over, because it has not really helped the security of the border and it has done great harm to the image of the country and to thousands of children. They have to act as soon as possible," Sandweg said.
The Justice Department today acknowledged that it is "illegal" the executive order signed today by the president, Donald Trump, to end the separation of immigrant children from their parents on the southern border of the country.
"Yes, it is illegal, it is clearly illegal," said a counselor from the Attorney General's Office, Gene Hamilton, in a press conference.
However, Hamilton said that the authorities are carrying out "the procedures before a federal court in California to ensure that a solution is found" in this regard.
The counselor said that these measures are intended to save time until the Congress adopts a resolution: "The Congress has to act. It can solve this situation tomorrow," he added.
"The president has made a bold decision, but only Congress can address this problem. We ask him to act immediately," he said.
Hamilton was referring to the two immigration bills that are scheduled to be voted on tomorrow in the House.
However, that executive order of Trump can breach the Flores agreement of 1997, which was reached by the government of the then president, Bill Clinton, with two humanitarian organizations and that establishes that unaccompanied minors detained at the border are only allowed to be detained for 20 days.
Said agreement was respected by the successive Administrations until in 2014 Obama breached the settlement due to the massive entry of minors from Central America and two years later a federal judge of California ruled against that policy and established the 20-day limit of arrest for children and their adult companions.
Later, an appellate court decided to apply it only to children.