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U.S. continues to separate migrant families despite rollback of policy

U.S. continues to separate migrant families despite rollback of policy

 Nearly nine months after the Trump administration officially rescinded its policy of separating migrant families who have illegally crossed the border, more than 200 migrant children have been taken from parents and other relatives and placed in institutional care, with some spending months in shelters and foster homes thousands of miles away from their parents.
The latest data reported to the federal judge monitoring one of the most controversial of President Trump’s immigration policies shows that 245 children have been removed from their families since the court ordered the government to halt routine separations under last spring’s “zero tolerance” border enforcement policy. Some of the new separations are being undertaken with no clear documentation to help track the children’s whereabouts.
Images of crying mothers and children at the border last year prompted an intense backlash across party lines, with all four living former first ladies and Melania Trump expressing horror at the policy. But despite President Trump’s June 20 executive order rescinding it, the practice was never completely suspended.
Under the original policy, most children were removed because parents who illegally crossed the border were subject to criminal prosecution. The recent separations have occurred largely because parents have been flagged for fraud, a communicable disease or past criminal history — in some cases relatively minor violations, years in the past, that ordinarily would not lead to the loss of parental custody.
The new separations are taking place amid an unprecedented influx of migrant families from across the southern border that has highlighted the failure of the Trump administration’s hard-line policies to deter them. The Border Patrol detained 76,103 migrants in February, an 11-year high for that month. Among those intercepted were about 40,000 members of families, two-thirds more than in January.
In Congress last week, Democrats grilled Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, over the separation policy, citing research that has found that separations from parents can inflict long-term psychological harm on children.
Family separations also sometimes occurred under the Obama administration, but only rarely and in extreme cases in which a child’s safety appeared to be at risk.
Customs and Border Protection officials say the separations are legal under the parameters set by the court and are intended to protect children, who they say may be threatened by human trafficking or by adults pretending to be a parent to capitalize on the advantage that gives them under American immigration laws.