The cartoonish evil of the Department of Homeland Security continues apace. The Daily Beast reports that DHS is proposing a rule that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement to check the immigration status of any sponsor of an unaccompanied child, as well as anyone who lives in the home of that sponsor.
The Department of Health and Human Services is currently the agency that arranges sponsorships so that an adult—often a parent or relative—can look after them while their case makes its way through immigration court. If no one is able to sponsor the child, then they are placed in foster care.
The DHS proposal would have a profound chilling effect on the current system. More from the Daily Beast:
Because the relatives of undocumented children are sometimes themselves undocumented, immigrant rights advocates warn that the new rule could put some potential sponsors in fear of deportation, discouraging them from coming forward to take in unaccompanied children.
“The proposal has the potential to drastically expand ICE’s enforcement dragnet,” said Katie Shepherd of the American Immigration Council. “It may ultimately harm—not help—unaccompanied children whose sponsors and loved ones end up being targeted and detained by ICE due to the increased screening.”
Shepherd added that children may end up languishing in foster care or HHS shelters as a result of the rule change, at a much higher cost to U.S. taxpayers.
This proposal is characterized by the Trump administration as a being in the best interest of the children, due to cases of undocumented minors being exploited. A report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee—led by Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill—included a grim incident in which undocumented children were trafficked and forced to work on a farm in Ohio, which the committee argues may have been prevented if HHS conducted proper background checks or conducted routine home studies.
But it’s a lie to suggest that a punitive crackdown on sponsor families’ immigration status would in any way address this problem. It’s predictably ghoulish stuff from an administration that has repeatedly used concerns about abuse and exploitation as smokescreen for racist and xenophobic policies.
This proposal doesn’t need congressional approval to go into effect, the Daily Beast notes, but DHS will hear comments on the proposal until June 7. Based on this administration’s record on immigrant children, there’s little reason to believe they won’t go through with it.
Update (3:57 p.m.): The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is “making preparations to warehouse migrant children on military bases.” From the Post:
According to an email notification sent to Pentagon staffers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make site visits at four military installations in Texas and Arkansas during the next two weeks to evaluate their suitability for child shelters.
The bases would be used to hold minors under age 18 who arrive at the border without an adult relative or after the government has separated them from their parents. HHS is the government agency responsible for providing minors with foster care until another adult relative can assume custody.
The plan from the Trump administration seems to be to create a crisis at every stage for children seeking refuge in the United States.