A Texas federal judge has recently stated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is helping to smuggle undocumented immigrant children into the U.S. in order to be reunited with their undocumented parents.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen expressed his frustration through a ten-page written order earlier this month. At that point, he had finished his fourth case in which an undocumented child was reunited with his or her undocumented immigrant parent. While Judge Hanen sentenced the smuggler to a prison term, he seemed most displeased with the U.S. government.
Although he claims to be sympathetic to these cases, Judge Hanen has condemned DHS for reuniting mother and child because he believes that this accomplishes the original criminal conspiracy. While this is far from an ideal situation, DHS has responded to the criticism with its justification for this practice.
DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron has said that “DHS screens unaccompanied alien children for human trafficking, notifies the proper authorities, and then transfers children into the custody of Health and Human Services.”
Even while undocumented immigrants are waiting on decisions associated with their immigration status, the U.S. government has nonetheless deemed it a priority that unaccompanied children are reunited with these parents. This has consistently saved money for taxpayers because the children are no longer residing in government-funded shelters.
This practice has grown even more beneficial over the last few years as the number of unaccompanied undocumented children coming to the U.S. has increased dramatically. While the number stayed pretty consistent between the years of 2008-2011, right around 7,000, the number increased to more than 13,000 in 2012, and rose to an astounding 24,668 in 2013.
Therefore, if the practice of reuniting these children with their parents was not in place, the government-funded shelters would be far too overcrowded and would simply not be able to care for this many children.
However, the federal judge insists that DHS is rewarding a type of criminal conduct that puts children at serious risk. Judge Hanen argues that DHS is indirectly helping drug cartels who often control immigrant smuggling transactions at the border. He states that this clearly contradicts the Department's mission to eradicate these cartels.
Judge Hanen also believes that DHS is inappropriately spending taxpayers' money by allowing these actions to occur. He has stated that this money is going to fund “evil ventures” and that is simply not right.
Meanwhile, immigrant advocacy groups argue that this practice is necessary until better policies have been implemented and that separating young children from their parents is immoral. President Obama made a statement just last year regarding a new policy to prohibit deportations of these undocumented children. He said that these children were brought to the United States through no fault of their own and they should be given special treatment.
Immigration laws and proposed reforms have been under intense scrutiny the past few years. Because no legislation was passed in 2013 resulting in any significant immigration revisions, this is just one more issue that is currently left unresolved.