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Reports spilling out of detention centers and immigration proceedings in McAllen, Tex. and elsewhere along the southern border include new details about the measures government officials are taking to separate children from their parents. The families are being separated while in government custody as a result of the agreement by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to achieve a goal of 100 percent prosecution for cases of illegal entry into the United States.
Last week, I shared some thoughts—based on my experience working on sensitive counterterrorism cases at the Justice Department in the post-9/11 era—regarding the ethical dilemma that federal agents, lawyers and other professionals face each day they are directed to implement the new policy of separating children from their parents. This post raises issues regarding the rights of the affected children and potential legal exposure faced by the workforce implementing this policy. None of the legal issues discussed below should be read in isolation; the ethical arguments for immediately ceasing this practice remain.
We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) June 17, 2018