The Trump administration plans to arrest parents and other relatives who authorities believe smuggled their children into the United States, a move immigrant advocates said would send a wave of fear through vulnerable communities.
A new “surge initiative” aims to dismantle human smuggling operations, including identifying and arresting the adult sponsors of unaccompanied minors who paid coyotes or other smugglers to bring young people across the US border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed Thursday.
That marks a sharp departure from policies in place under President Barack Obama’s administration, during which time tens of thousands of children fleeing gang and drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador crossed the border and were placed with sponsors in communities nationwide. Sponsors — typically parents, close relatives or family friends — have been expected to care for the children while they go to school and seek legal status in immigration court.
“Arresting those who come forward to sponsor unaccompanied children during their immigration proceedings, often parents, is unimaginably cruel,” said Wendy Young, president of Kids In Need of Defense, a nonprofit that has matched thousands of unaccompanied minors with pro bono attorneys in the last eight years. “Without caregivers to come forward, many of these children will languish in costly detention centers or be placed in foster care at great expense to states.”
Originally published by the New York Post.