ICE just locked up 170 immigrants who came forward to take care of migrant children

ICE just locked up 170 immigrants who came forward to take care of migrant children

This week, NBC News reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had arrested 170 immigrants who came forward to apply to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children:

ICE said Tuesday that the arrests were of immigrants suspected of being in the United States illegally and took place from early July to November. They were the result of background checks conducted on potential sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children placed under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nearly two thirds of those arrested — 109 in total — had no criminal record, the agency said. Another 61 of those arrested did have criminal records, but ICE did not specify the crimes and said it could not break down convictions by violent and nonviolent offenses.

This mass arrest is the result of a new regulation enacted by President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which instructs agents to run a tougher background check on those applying to sponsor migrant children, including "parents or close relatives already in the U.S."

While it makes sense to determine whether those seeking to take children into their care have a record of violent crime, that is clearly not true of the vast majority of the people ICE now has in custody. And every capable sponsor who is locked up solely because of immigration status means more children who will have to sit needlessly in U.S. detention facilities indefinitely. "A natural consequence of these arrests is that these children have nowhere to go," tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

Trump's immigration policy has been a flashpoint issue defining his presidency. Earlier this year, the administration came under heavy fire for a cruel "zero tolerance" policy that separated hundreds of accompanied migrant children from their parents ― in many cases, probably forever. More recently, Trump has tried to ban asylum applications from migrants who do not cross at ports of entry, and then make it prohibitively hard to get through the ports of entry themselves, to the point where children are desperately fleeing from tear gas deployed at the border.

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