- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2021

Hoping to encourage more illegal immigrants to come forward and collect their illegal immigration children, the Biden administration on Friday rescinded a 2018 memo that allowed Homeland Security to access data about sponsors for the children.

The memo had mostly been eviscerated by legal action, but the Biden team says because the document itself was never revoked, there’s still a “chilling effect” on illegal immigrants willing to step forward to ask for custody of their relatives.

The goal of the revocation is to try to speed the process of reuniting children with their parents, which will free up more beds to accommodate the hundreds of new unaccompanied juveniles that are streaming across the border each day.

“We believe that’s going to have a real impact in terms of people trusting us,” an administration official said in briefing reporters about the move.

The memo was an agreement between Homeland Security and the Health and Human Services Department.



Known as Unaccompanied Alien Children, the juveniles are among the most troubling aspects of the migrant surge that’s hit the Biden team in its early weeks in office.

More than 3,000 of the children are stacked up in holding cell facilities run by Customs and Border Protection. The children are supposed to be there fewer than three days, but the surge has left the administration struggling to meet that goal.

Under the current process, the children are supposed to be quickly transferred to HHS, which sends them to contracted shelters and tries to find sponsors to take the children.

In a majority of cases those sponsors are illegal immigrants — often parents, but sometimes older siblings or aunts or uncles — already here living in the shadows.

The Trump administration in 2018 issued a memo giving deportation officers some access to information about the sponsors to see if any of them were priority targets for deportation. The memo had been largely de-fanged in subsequent years, but the Biden team believes it was still keeping making some sponsors wary.

“It really did have a chilling effect,” the administration official said.

In some cases, those sending the children from Central America will write names and contact information of relatives on the children’s clothes, and even send birth certificates or other documents along with them to speed the reunification. Smugglers shepherd the children to the border, then the U.S. government completes the journey, delivering the children to the intended relatives.

In February, the median time for a child at the Health Department-run shelters was 24 days, though some children remain much longer, driving up the mean time to 37 days.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide