Democrats Blast Trump for Jailing immigrants
WASHINGTON — June 9, 2018
Democratic lawmakers blasted the Trump administration's immigration policy on Friday, calling it “inhumane and un-American.”
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has entered into a 120-day agreement with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the U.S. Marshals Service according to which about 1,600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees are transferring into federal prisons waiting for immigration hearings, Reuters reported Thursday.
'The depth of this administration's heartlessness has no bottom,' Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told Reuters in a statement released Friday. 'After seeing the heartbreak and suffering that family separation has caused, and after hearing criticism from all sides,' he said, 'this administration has decided to double down on cruelty by using federal prisons to house asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution and torture.'
Immigration agents arrested more than 50,000 in May — more than three times the number recorded a year ago. At the same time, the government has vowed to prosecute every immigrant who crosses the border illegally, even if they ask for asylum. It's called "zero tolerance."
As part of that effort, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier this year that he planned to prosecute everyone who crossed the border illegally and also to separate women and children from their families.
The result has been an overflow of detainees — so many that the government is putting adults in federal prison beds, and looking at military facilities to house their children. In Alpine, the federal court docket has jumped 40 percent.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions blames the parents.
"We don't want to do this at all. If people don't want to be separated from their children, they shouldn't bring them with them," Sessions said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show earlier this week. "We've got to get this message out: if you come illegally and if you bring children, you'll still be prosecuted."
Under the old rules, at this point, parents would be reunited with their children, released, and told to appear in immigration court.
But Trump in the spring signed a memorandum ending 'catch and release,' in which illegal immigrants were released from detention while awaiting court hearings.
So, under the new rules, these three women will be moved from a pre-trial cell to an immigration cell in the same lock-up. There they'll wait until their asylum claims are decided.
Immigration advocates immediately decried the news of sending detainees to federal penitentiaries.
'Our federal prisons are set up to detain the worst of the worst. They should not be used for immigration purposes,' said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum.
'Federal prisons are for hardened criminals. They are not physically set up for immigrant landscapers looking for a job or fleeing violence,' Noorani said.