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Families of Central American immigrants walk through the countryside after crossing from Mexico to the United States to seek asylum on April 14, 2016 in Rome, Texas. Photographer: John Moore / Getty Images
Families of Central American immigrants walk through the countryside after crossing from Mexico to the United States to seek asylum on April 14, 2016, in Rome, Texas. Photographer: John Moore / Getty Images

New immigration strategy will separate undocumented families when they are detained

When we believed that this Administration could not be crueler, it dawns and DHS surpasses itself.

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Nowadays, when a family is arrested upon entering the country without the required documentation, the groups stay together in some detention center or are allowed to go free pending a judicial appointment. But according to a new modification that is being evaluated by the government, Immigration and Customs officials should separate adults from minors, and move them to different detention centers.

According to what officials on condition of anonymity told the Washington Post, these measures are still under discussion and will include the use of information collected by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to locate the parents who are being deported once they attempt to recover custody of their children from government shelters.

Although the Trump Administration obtained a timely achievement in reversing the rate of undocumented immigration to the country during the first months of its government, immigration agents have reported having detained 7,018 families during the month of November on the Mexican border, which represents an increase of 45% from previous month, according to statistics from the Department of National Security.

According to the same information, the number of underage children who tried to cross the border without a legal guardian increased by 26%.

Likewise, the shelters for minors directed by the HHS are currently touching their maximum capacity, according to an official of the agency, due to a significant increase registered in the last month.

While these new proposals had been explored by the then Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, during the month of March, they are now being seriously considered under the new leadership of Kirstjen Nielsen.

For immigration officials, these new measures are "hard but necessary" to discourage Central American families who intend to cross the border.

"People will not stop coming unless there are serious consequences to illegal entry," said one of the DHS officials.

Many of the families that try to enter the country come from the so-called "Northern Triangle" of Central America (which includes El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) and are citizens who claim that their lives are in danger if they return to their countries of origin. This leads to large numbers of cases of asylum applications, which take years to be resolved by the courts (there are currently up to 600,000 pending cases in court, as the Post continues).

Considering that asylum seekers are able to obtain a work permit while their case is evaluated and often decide to ignore court orders when their case is dismissed, the Trump Administration has decided to take action to stop the flow of undocumented immigration that, according to officials, "shamelessly abuses American compassion."

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