Chief Rodney Scott confirmed his agents have expelled unaccompanied migrant children since a judge ordered the practice to stop.
A judge ordered border officials to stop citing COVID-19 as reason for expelling migrant children, however, the practice has continued.
According to CBS News, U.S. border officials have expelled at least 66 unaccompanied migrant children since the ruling made by Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Legal filings revealed two top Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials violated Judge Sullivan’s order.
“Defendants regret that class members were expelled contrary to the Court’s injunction and are committed to full compliance with the Court’s injunction going forward,” Justice Department attorneys wrote, according to the report.
As theGrio reported, Judge Sullivan ruled “children without parents must be taken into custody by border officials and taken care of under laws created by Congress while undergoing immigration proceedings.” President Donald Trump and his administration have claimed the expulsions were necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic and would prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to the news report, since March when the pandemic officially began, officials have sent back migrants at the border who lack proper documentation without following the necessary steps, which include allowing them to speak with an immigration judge or asylum officer. Two hundred thousand summary expulsions occurred before the end of September at the U.S.-Mexico border, 9,000 of them minors without adults present.
CBS News found U.S. Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott said his agents have expelled 26 unaccompanied migrant children since the November ruling. According to the report, their ages ranged from 12 and 17 years old and one turned out to be a U.S. citizen who was ultimately allowed to reenter the country. William Ferrara, the head of the Office of Field Operations, said his officials expelled eight unaccompanied minors after the court ruling, CBS News reported.
Buzzfeed News reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expelled 33 children to Guatemala, on the same day Judge Sullivan made the ruling. An ICE official claimed the flight departed shortly before the agency was notified of the decision and was not aware until the plane landed in the destination country. ICE official Jeffrey Lynch said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security decided not to return the minors on the return flight.
“It is unconscionable that they are leaving the kids there and that they did not immediately bring them back,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, to Buzzfeed. She continued, “The expulsion is not only putting kids on the plane and taking off, it is also placing them in another country.”
According to CBS, Justice Department officials aimed to overturn Judge Sullivan’s decision arguing that it will lead to a spike in COVID-19. Scott revealed that Border Patrol agents have taken in more than 3,700 unaccompanied minors along both land borders since Judge Sullivan’s order.
“The widespread failure to comply with the injunction is deeply concerning and we hope the illegally expelled children will not be harmed before they can be found, if they can be found,” Lee Gelernt, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer challenging the expulsions, said to CBS News.
As theGrio reported, earlier this year, 666 parents of migrant children separated from their children at the border cannot be located, a number greater than originally suspected.
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