Surprise! The Trump Administration has announced another horrible policy regarding the treatment of immigrants. Soon, parents or relatives wishing to claim custody of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, will have to be fingerprinted before the child will be released to them.
Current U.S. law limits the amount of time a juvenile can be detained, so if a child is caught crossing the border alone, they are released to an adult sponsor. Those children are then given an immigration court date which the adults are expected to make sure they attend.
These sponsors are interviewed and a background check is completed before they children are released. If the sponsor is not one of the child’s parents, then the person is fingerprinted and a background check is run through the FBI database. If for some reason the parent is a “documented risk,” then they too will be fingerprinted and checked. Immigration status of the parent is not currently used to disqualify the person from being a sponsor to one of these children.
The majority of the unaccompanied children coming El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were released to a parent (statistics from information gathered in 2014-2015), ⅓ are released to another relative other than a parent, only 8% went to a family friend, and less than 1% of those unaccompanied minors went to an unrelated sponsor.
With the facts laid out, it makes it a little hard to swallow when Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is playing the new policy off as measures to protect the children saying, “we’re going to more thoroughly vet sponsors.” However, Wagner also thinks that those that do not wish to be fingerprinted won’t make good parents anyway, saying:
“If somebody is unwilling to claim their child from custody because they’re concerned about their own immigration status, I think that de facto calls into question whether they’re an adequate sponsor and whether we should be releasing the child to that person.”
A callous and ridiculous statement. If a parent has proof that the child is their own, and there is no reason to suspect the child would be endangered, there is no reason to fingerprint the parent. People have babies every single day, and no one is asked to submit to a fingerprint background check before they are allowed to leave the hospital with a newborn.
Besides, with the attitude the current administration has towards immigrants, why would anyone trust that the fingerprinting is for anything other than nefarious purposes?