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5 Things to Know About Detention Centers for Immigrant Children

One of the lowest points of the Trump administration has been unfolding since May 2018, and it’s a direct consequence of the draconian policies being enacted by the chaotic White House and executed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Child detention centers at the southern border have received plenty of news media attention due to their inherent shock value, which is based on a policy of separating minors from migrant families who arrive at the border seeking asylum. To understand this situation as well as other current issues related to immigration, San Diego residents need to know the following details.

1. Child Detention Centers Are Not New

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been operating detention centers for migrant children since the Obama administration. However, there’s a clear distinction between the situation then and now. The centers operated by HHS prior to 2018 were established to handle the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors who showed up at border checkpoints without their parents or adult guardians. The original purpose of these centers was to determine the future status of these children, most of whom couldn’t grasp the concept of applying for asylum, which is somewhat similar to caring for orphans. Separating children from their parents emanated from a “zero tolerance” policy signed by President Donald Trump in May 2018, which calls for the prosecution of adults who don’t cross the border at designated checkpoints. The reason many families chose this illegal entry was because they were being denied the opportunity to apply for asylum at checkpoints.

2. Children Are Being Sent to Tent Cities and Warehouses

Instead of using established juvenile detention or foster care facilities, the government handed out contracts to organizations that set up shop at abandoned retail warehouses such as a former Walmart store. Trump even announced that tent cities in military bases were forthcoming. As can be expected, this created even more of a national backlash.

3. There Are Future Liability Issues for the Trump Administration

A prominent law firm based in the District of Columbia is planning to file a lawsuit against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after a girl under the age of two died from pneumonia complications six weeks after being released. Several other lawsuits are being drafted in connection with this issue, and some of them are related to unlawful detention, lack of due process, and even child abuse.

4. The Legal Status of Detention Centers Is Questionable

Just because Trump signed an order to establish these centers does not make them legal. In fact, the federal government has been ordered to release detained children and reunite them with their families as soon as possible, a task the administration initially had difficulty complying with. As of late August, nearly 1,900 children have been reunited with their families, but the Trump administration has filed appeals against various federal injunctions, which is a legal tactic that won’t delay reunification but gives the government time to justify the legality of the policy. Should the family separation practice be deemed illegal or unconstitutional, the White House and DHS could be in serious trouble.

5. Lawmakers and Journalists Have Been Denied Access

It’s possible that White House legal advisors may have sensed a scandal in the making when state and U.S. legislators were denied entry to the centers. A similar denial was extended to journalists, and not just at the detention centers. Border checkpoints were locked down after DHS admitted that migrants seeking asylum were being told to return later because they didn’t have enough resources to process their applications.

Get in touch with KS Visa Law if you’d like more information on U.S. citizenship and immigration services. San Diego immigration attorneys are awaiting your call at 858-874-0711.

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