Ex-ICE Director Confirms Separations Of Some Families At Border Are Permanent. Again, This Country Has Done This Before.
The former head of ICE confirmed he's seen it happen.
Recently, a photo of a desperately tearful toddler looking up at her mother while being inspected by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents became the visual representation of the ongoing immigration crisis at the U.S./Mexico border.
Despite the Department of Homeland Security speaking publicly about its new "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, many people remain full of questions about what will happen to the children forcibly separated from their parents.
The former head of ICE, John Sandweg, recently talked with NBC News to share his expertise, and what he had to say didn't put our minds at ease at all. Sandweg served as ICE's acting director during President Barack Obama's administration from 2013-2014.
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Although the White House has assured the world the forced parent-child separations are only temporary, Sandweg said these extreme measures could very quickly be made permanent.
"We have come to understand that these families who are separated, it is for a limited period of time between five to 10 days," White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News on Tuesday, June 19.
.@mercedesschlapp: “If you come in and cross the border, it is a crime and so the illegal immigrant who is the adult will have to be prosecuted.” pic.twitter.com/4twFoFZS0O— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 19, 2018'
Sandweg disagreed with that assessment.
"Permanent separation. It happens," said Sandweg. He further explained that the timing of asylum hearings could make the separations last longer than the White House's five to 10 days.
Sandweg said because immigration judges typically would hear a parent's case before their child's, the parent could either have asylum or be deported while the child remains in detention.
"You could easily end up in a situation where the gap between a parent's deportation and a child's deportation is years," Sandweg said. As such, parents could be forced back into their home countries without proper access to legal counsel, leaving their children trapped in the American foster care system.
"You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted," Sandweg noted, adding that he's seen this happen.
"This is why family unity was critical for us. With the numbers of families crossing ticking up, [the] Obama administration was concerned about children being left behind," Sandweg continued.
According to NBC, immigration lawyers in the U.S. and Central America confirmed many deported parents are having a hard time reuniting with their children.