Just a few weeks after announcing an end to DACA, the Trump administration is reportedly drafting a new policy that would expedite the deportation of some 150,000 children from Central America who arrived in the U.S. without their parents. The Miami Herald reported on Wednesday that the effort is, of course, being led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department.
Fleeing horrific cartel violence in Central America, which the U.S. government arguably instigated by deporting people, more than 150,000 unaccompanied children are currently in the U.S. under the supervision of the Office of Refugee Resettlement—a subsidiary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The surge of unaccompanied refugee children undertaking a harrowing journey to the U.S. peaked in 2014, when more than 70,000 of them crossed the border from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Many of those children now reside with either relatives who live in the U.S., shelters, or other sponsors.
But the Justice Department’s proposal would see to the swift deportation of those refugees who are over the age of 18. The Herald spoke with two people who saw drafts of the plan and it sounds predictably heartless:
This new policy would call for expedited deportation of another group — the more than 150,000 children who arrived at the southern border alone, escaping violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Under the plan being discussed, teens in this group would be sent back to their countries when they turn 18 under a fast-track deportation, which means they would not see an immigration judge first.
Given that both President Trump and Sessions have blamed DACA for encouraging Central American children to seek refuge in the U.S., it’s somewhat surprising that the proposal hasn’t been a central component of the administration’s war on immigrants. But that might be because the policy is sure to be fiercely contested in court.
A former Justice Department official who spoke to The Herald said that the Trump administration would have a difficult time proving the proposed policy’s legality. “The concern is that most people at DOJ know this will likely be viewed as illegal and do not want to have to defend this in court if they can avoid it,” he said.
On Thursday, however, Sessions intimated that a policy to address “the unaccompanied minors issue” might be imminent. Speaking in Boston, MA, Sessions made a revolting claim that the so-called Unaccompanied Alien Children program was being exploited by “gang members who come to this country as wolves in sheep clothing.”