President Obama Also Struggled With Policy On Migrant Families

6-22-18-ERNIE ALLEN’S-TOP STORY-

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The Trump administration isn’t the first to grapple with the question of how to handle tens of thousands of immigrant families arriving on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Four years ago, Barack Obama faced a similar crisis when record numbers of Central American immigrants fleeing violence began showing up at the border. Officials had to deal with the same court case the current administration began fighting Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump issued a new executive order to stop separating migrant families.

More than 60,000 family “units” — which the U.S. government defines as a parent and child — were stopped along the border in the 2014 fiscal year, a fourfold increase from a year earlier. In the last fiscal year, that number exceeded 70,000.

Initially, the Obama administration released mothers and children with notices to appear in immigration courts in the cities where they were headed. At times, immigrants were transported from Texas to Border Patrol facilities in other states so agents could keep up with ballooning arrivals.

The Obama administration then moved to hold mothers with children in family detention facilities — a 100-bed center in Pennsylvania and two larger facilities that opened in Texas in 2014. Those spaces provided a few thousand beds.

Immigrant advocates opposed the move, arguing that minors couldn’t be kept for long periods in these facilities because of a 1997 settlement agreement governing the treatment of immigrant children. A federal judge in Los Angeles agreed and ruled that the children could not be kept in detention.

The administration then started releasing many families more quickly since short detention stints would neither deter immigrants from coming nor give immigration courts enough time to evaluate asylum claims, said Seth Stodder, a former assistant secretary of homeland security for border, immigration and trade policy in the Obama administration.

The U.S. government could erect more detention facilities, Stodder said, but resolving asylum claims quickly isn’t so easy since immigration courts are backlogged with hundreds of thousands of cases and immigrants often need time to obtain evidence from their countries.

“It is less about whether there is space to put people. They can find space to put people. The real issue is legal,” he said, adding that ankle bracelets or monitoring programs might help ensure immigrants show up for court without the need for continued detention.

The Trump administration has sought to deter immigration through a “zero-tolerance” policy announced in April that mandated the criminal prosecution of all immigrants caught at the border. Authorities began jailing the parents and sending their children to government-contracted shelters, sparking an outcry from immigrant advocates and many lawmakers.

After separating more than 2,300 children from their parents, the administration shifted course this week and said families would be detained together. Officials filed a request to change the rules governing the detention of children under the court settlement — a move that advocates for the children said they would oppose.

Another challenge the administration faces stems from claims by many of these immigrants that they are fleeing violence and persecution in their countries. After initial screenings, they may proceed in many cases to seek asylum.

A recent decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to narrow the scope of asylum cases based on gang or domestic violence might result in cases moving quickly. But Stodder said doing so could also lead to more appeals and possibly more challenges of immigration rulings in the federal courts.

“Due process will be had,” he said. “The question is whether it is in the immigration courts or whether it is in the circuit courts.”

By AMY TAXIN, Associated Press

Blogs

Metro Officer Decommissioned After Rollover Crash, DUI Arrest

Metro Officer Decommissioned After Rollover Crash, DUI Arrest

  Detective Sergeant Sandra Luther,  49,  was decommissioned after a single DUI crash near I-840 Saturday morning.  Luther was off duty when officers received calls that a truck was weaving on the highway. After searching for the vehicle, the highway patrol found Luther in her truck, which had rolled over. Luther was not hurt in…

TITANS BEAT THE PATRIOTS!

TITANS BEAT THE PATRIOTS!

Tom Brady added another big chunk of NFL history to his resume. The Tennessee Titans made sure the Patriots quarterback didn’t finish his 300th game. The Titans sacked Brady three times and hit him repeatedly as they beat New England 34-10 Sunday, snapping a seven-game skid against the Patriots in Mike Vrabel’s first game as head coach…

Top 5 Things You Should Know Today (11-12-18)

Top 5 Things You Should Know Today (11-12-18)

SHOOTER FIRES MULTIPLE SHOTS INTO HOME WITH CHILDREN Metro police arrested a man Friday night who they say fired nearly twenty gunshots into a home with a woman and four children inside of it. 19-year-old Gregory Patton was arrested late Friday and booked into the Metro jail, according to police reports. The victim said she was arguing with her…

Toy Field at Nissan Stadium 2018

We’re building a field of toys and we need your help! While you’re out shopping for the holidays, pick up an extra toy (or 2) or a gift for a senior (slippers, small appliances, blankets, etc) and bring it to Toy Field! We’ll build a field of toys at Nissan Stadium (by Gate 1) to…