In the midst of backlash over a new "zero tolerance" policy on immigration enforced by the Justice Department, President Donald Trump has come under fire for measures to curb illegal immigration that separate parents from their children.
"If somebody is unwilling to claim their child from custody because they're concerned about their own immigration status, I think that, de facto, calls into question whether they're an adequate sponsor and whether we should be releasing a child to that person", said Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families at HHS.
"We need to change the law so families arriving illegally can be sent home swiftly, and so there can be an actual border protecting the country, and protecting American communities", he said.
Advocates note that many families attempting to enter the USA are seeking asylum from gangs and criminal activities in their home countries, and as such are not breaking the law. 'The Democrat's solution would be to let everyone go, and that is not something the administration can responsibly do'. HHS can not "deny placement" based on immigration status, Wagner said. Give us your exhausted, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free - and we will torture them for wanting a better life.
A Customs and Border Protection official told lawmakers last week that 658 children had been separated from their parents at the border from May 6 to May 19, after border agents began referring every illegal entry to criminal prosecutors.
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Separately, senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller expressed the administration's desire to eliminate a slew of regulations, some implemented by courts, that apply to undocumented immigrant children. Day after day, stories pile up of ICE raids and abuse of immigrants in detention, with the most recent and most outrageous being accounts of parents and children being forcibly separated by immigration authorities at the border.
Under a 1985 resolution - amended in 2015 - called the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal government is required not to detain children if at all possible and instead release them "without unnecessary delay" into the care of a parent, legal guardian or other qualified adult.
The same could be said for the administration's efforts to encourage greater coordination between ICE and other federal agencies and local law enforcement.
Jonathan Rath Hoffman, chief spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, described the Trump administration's determination to prosecute parents as a continuation of Obama-era measures.
Turns out, the policy of separating families trying to cross the border illegally isn't a law in itself. "If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally", Mr Sessions said.
To Joseph Kolb, executive director of the Southwest Gang Information Center, the newfound media concern over the government's record on unaccompanied children is perplexing.
The problem with Romney's idea is that it assumed the government could accomplish this goal by standing in the way of undocumented immigrants finding jobs, when the reality is that majority make money doing low-pay, low-skill work (farm labor, child care for individual families, housekeeping) that is notoriously hard to monitor for compliance with laws precluding the hiring of such workers.