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U.S. Border Patrol agents conduct intake of illegal border crossers at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018.
US Customs and Border Patrol/Flickr
Citizenship

The US Is Forced to Stop Separating and Detaining Migrant Families — For Now

The Trump administration has been forced to halt its “zero tolerance” policy on prosecuting unauthorized border crossings, which led to families being separated at the US-Mexico border over the past several weeks.

While the administration is “not changing the policy," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday, it is "simply out of resources" to enforce the policy.

Since May, more than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents upon crossing the US border, causing uproar. After backlash from the public and politicians alike, President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating families last week.

Take Action: Reunite All Separated Families and Support Foreign Aid to End the Root Cause of the Migration Crisis

Under this order, families would need to be detained together. Trump also sought to repeal a landmark legal ruling in order to allow families to be detained together indefinitely throughout the duration of their proceedings.

However, US detention facilities do not have the beds or the space to indefinitely hold so many families together, which means that, for now, families will be allowed to remain together and will not be detained while their criminal and immigration cases are pending.

Instead of detaining immigrants apprehended at the border, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will revert to giving adult migrants who enter the US with their children a court summons and allowing them to leave, as the did under the Obama administration, the BBC reported. Trump has publicly criticized this policy, calling it a “catch and release” immigration “loophole.”

Read more: How You Can Still Help Migrant Families Being Separated at the Border

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told journalists on Monday that border agents would stop referring adults with children for criminal prosecution until government agencies have a plan in place to keep parents and children together during their criminal proceedings.

Since Trump’s executive order, more than 500 children separated from their parents have been reunited with their families. But more than 2,000 children are still in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), some thousands of miles away from their parents.

Read more: What Trump's Executive Order on the Separation of Migrant Families Does — and What It Doesn't Do

"We are working as fast as we possibly can to reunify children with sponsors here in the US," Mark Weber, a spokesperson for DHHS, said on Monday.

Nonprofit organizations and NGOs are working overtime to help reunite the families who were separated at the border. Here’s how you can help.

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