Unredacted Family Separation Memo Requested

Request for Unredacted "Zero Tolerance" Memo that Justifies Family Separation Policy

On October 11, 2018, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D – NY) sent a request to Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to release the unredacted “Zero Tolerance” memo. The Senator and Representative, both ranking members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, hope the release of the unredacted document will shed light on the concerns raised by the recent Inspector General’s report and how the process by which the Department implemented the policy.

Currently, there is a publicly available version of the “Zero Tolerance” memo; however, it is heavily redacted and unsigned. Nor does the publicly available version have the appended legal analysis that justified family separation.

Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy

Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Nalder state in their letter that they are concerned about the implementation of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Indeed, the DHS Inspector General concluded that the Department was ill-prepared to deal with the effects of the policy, including that of family separation. For this reason, they are seeking clarification on the development of the policy.

Three times, Sec. Nielsen averred that DHS does “not have a policy to separate children from their parents.” She stated so on May 15, 2018; she tweeted so on June 17, 2018; and again, on June 18, 2018, she repeated these claims at a White House press conference.

The letter states, however, that there was an April 23 internal memo that recommended the implementation of the family separation policy. Furthermore, this memo went to Sec. Nielsen’s office.

The Memo

Purportedly, the heads of the three immigration agencies outlined how they might prosecute more parents for immigration violations. The memo recommends prosecuting parents who came to the U.S. with children because the authors believe such a policy would have the greatest impact upon deterring future migration. In it, the authors stated that DHS could “permissibly direct” family separation policy. It also included a footnote with a full legal analysis to justify the policy.

For Further Information

The Expansion of the Inadmissibility due to Public Charge Grounds is hurting immigrant families in other ways. The American Immigration Lawyers Association and others have sought clarification on these provisions.

This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. Do not take any action based on the information contained in this post without consulting a qualified immigration attorney. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

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This information is taken from AILA Doc. No. 18101633.

Categories: Immigration News