US suspends prosecutions of undocumented parents
The U.S. has put a temporary pause on referring undocumented parents traveling with their children for criminal prosecution after they are apprehended while attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters Monday that Border Patrol agents have stopped handing parents over to prosecutors for now in an effort to "maintain family unity".
Referring all undocumented adults for criminal prosecution is a key part of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy and resulted in over 2,300 children being separated from their parents during criminal proceedings after Trump changed decades of past administration practice.
Prior administrations did not immediately refer all undocumented adults for criminal prosecution regardless of whether they illegally crossed the border with children.
Trump's policy shift resulted in the controversial separation of families but was stopped when he ordered Wednesday that families could remain united during criminal proceedings after days of seeking to shift responsibility for his actions on Congress and the Democratic Party.
Just hours before McAleenan's announcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sought to defend the "zero tolerance" policy, saying that if the administration ended the policy, "it would encourage more adults to bring more children illegally on a dangerous journey that puts these children at great risk".
McAleenan said the administration is looking at a plan to continue prosecutions without forcing an "extended separation" of parents and their children.
The White House said the criminal referrals would only be suspended for a short amount of time.
"This will only last a short amount of time, because we’re going to run out of space, we're going to run out of resources in order to keep people together," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
The immigration crackdown comes as Guatemala seeks protected status for its citizens following a devastating volcano eruption in the country near the capital.
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