‘Zero Tolerance’ immigration policy and its effects on children

The Trump Administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy has led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

News 25’s Veronica Bayona spoke to the director of a local immigration legal services nonprofit organization who gives us a better understanding of the policy.

In April, U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered prosecutors along the border to adopt immediately a zero tolerance policy for illegal border crossings.Annie Johnston with El Pueblo Immigration Legal Services said, “Now, with the current policy, more than ever we are helping lots of families prepare for potential separation.”

Johnston says immigrants of all ages are now living with an increasing fear. “There’s a lot of human consequences to what’s happening in this point in time.”

In February 2017, John Kelly, the DHS director at the time, released a memo outlining how the provisions from the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 would be used and how they would be enforced. “IIRIRA allows for essentially for mass detention of folks on immigration related grounds.”

Johnston says IIRIRA is primarily responsible for the Trump Administration’s current immigration policy. Since early May, over 2,300 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the southern U.S. border according to the Department of Homeland Security. “One, it’s totally against our values as a country. Two, it’s totally illegal internationally.”

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