U.S.immigration enforcement officials have detained a Brazilian mother and child in separate detention centers, a move that signals a sharp turn in the agency’s enforcement approach.
In the past, immigration enforcement agencies that manage to arrest immigrant families illegally entering the country made it a practice to detain parents together with their children in the same detention facility. This, however, was not the case for a Brazilian mother hiding under the pseudonym “Jocelyn” and her 14-year-old child.
Jocelyn entered the United States along with her son in August last year, having left Brazil to flee from both domestic and gang violence. They had hoped to apply for asylum given their circumstances. Jocelyn is now being held in a Texas detention center while her son was placed in a shelter in Illinois.
This is a result of the Trump administration’s initiative to end the immigration enforcement protocol known as “catch and release,” a practice where immigration enforcement agencies would release people caught for their unlawful immigration status while awaiting their court date with an immigration judge. Under previous administrations, immigration agencies would also detain immigrant families together as they underwent administrative processing and were usually released with a stern notice to return to court for later proceedings.
Immigration advocates claim that the shift in the administration’s approach to immigration enforcement has more sinister intentions to its design than it lets on. They insist that eending the“catch and release” protocol is part of the administration’s agenda to discourage families from illegally crossing the border or apply for asylum.
Families that cross the border are usually returned to their home countries after their immigration proceedings. President Trump has, however, pushed for harsher measures against migrant parents for entering the country illegally, turning it into a federal crime.
For first-time offenders, Trump proposed imposing a misdemeanor charge with a maximum sentence of 6 months. On the second instance, offenders face a felony charge with up to 20 years of imprisonment, depending on the individual’s criminal history. Should a case become a criminal matter, migrant families will be forced to part ways.
Activists, public defenders, and immigration advocates alike claim that an increasing number of families seeking asylum in the U.S.is being charged in federal criminal courts across the country. Their claims, however, are based on anecdotal evidence revealing the spreading practice as concrete statistics on the matter have yet to be produced.
Meanwhile, HouseDemocrats have sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, stating: “We are gravely concerned that these practices are expanding and worsening, further traumatizing families and impeding access to a fair process for seeking asylum.”
Jocelyn currently faces misdemeanor charges.
If you, or a loved one, are trying to enter the United States by seeking asylum and want to know your legal options and rights, sit down for a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more about how our services can help you.