US immigration law changes may adversely affect minors

| May 10, 2018 | U.s. Immigration Law |

Immigrant advocates in Florida and throughout the nation are speaking out against recent happenings in the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. immigration law changes have been proposed in a 96-page document that many people say will give the government unfair advantages regarding families and/or unaccompanied minors who enter the United States without appropriate paperwork. Such matters are currently governed by regulations set forth in the Flores Settlement Agreement, a federal consent decree, enacted in 1997.  

When adults with children cross U.S. borders without proper documentation, immigration officers often place them in detention facilities. Children may be separated from their parents for a time. Under current regulations, children must be transferred from a Department of Homeland Security detention center to a residential facility to be reunited with their parents within five days. Proposed changes in the newly drafted document could allow government officials to keep children apart from their parents for longer periods of time. 

Opponents to the immigration law changes say the language in the document is ambiguous and could place additional hardships on families seeking protection in the United States. The residential family facilities would be federally licensed if the plan goes through, which would make it possible to increase the amount of time immigration officials may hold families in such facilities. Right now, they must be released after 14 days; if the law changes, they could be held more than three times that amount of time. 

A major concern of immigrant advocates regarding possible U.S. immigration law changes has to do with the status of minors when they are separated from their parents in detainment. Proposed changes would include listing such children as accompanied, which would directly impact the processing of their cases in ways advocates say would increase their risks for deportation. Florida immigration and naturalization law attorneys are available to assist people facing family detention problems in this state. 

Source: The Washington Post, “Department of Homeland Security proposal would change rules for minors in immigration detention“, Maria Sacchetti, May 9, 2018

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