The Trump Administration is arresting undocumented immigrants who offer to sponsor migrant children.
Between July and November, the Trump Administration arrested 170 undocumented immigrants who came forward to take children out of government custody, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announced earlier this week.
The arrests were made on the basis of information the government obtained when good samaritans applied to take immigrant children out of custody.
This summer, the Department of Homeland Security put into effect a statute that lets immigration authorities examine the criminal background and legal status of anyone who offers to sponsor the unaccompanied minors.
ICE admits that approximately two-thirds (109) of the immigrants arrested had no criminal record. The remaining 61 did have criminal records, but ICE does not specify what those records entailed. Whether those convictions were for violent or nonviolent offenses would make a great difference in the adult’s qualifications to take in a child, but the distinction is ignored.
Prior to the Trump administration’s rule change this summer, immigration enforcement was not the focus of the the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s background checks. Instead, their goal was to make sure the sponsors could take care of the children: could keep them safe, get them an education, and provide aid throughout court appearances.
ICE confirmed 41 of these arrests in September, which prompted Democrats to respond with legislation. Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill in the Senate that would bar ICE from using information obtained in a background checks to arrest adults seeking to take in migrant child.
“Right now, unaccompanied children are being held in detention facilities or living in tent cities due in part to potential sponsors’ fear of retribution from ICE for coming forward. This is an unacceptable obstacle to getting these children into a safe home, and we must fix it,” Harris stated. “We will ultimately be judged as a society by how we treat our children, and without these crucial protections we are depriving unaccompanied minors of a place they can begin to call home.”
“Children do not belong in cages. They do not belong in tent cities. They should not be indefinitely held,” added Senator Wyden. “The administration should stop inciting fear and start doing everything within its power to ensure the well-being of these kids, placing them with families where they can feel safe and have the care they need. To do otherwise is an affront to our basic humanitarian values as Americans.”
Advocates for the bill argue that someone’s immigration status is irrelevant to whether they are fit to take in a child, and that the child’s welfare should once more be the focus of these background checks.