Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) – President Joe Biden has been quick to drive policy changes, particularly immigration. Last week, the Justice Department ended the Trump-era zero-tolerance immigration policy, which allowed the U.S. government to separate thousands of children from their parents.
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Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson overturned the policy in a memo sent to federal prosecutors.
During his campaign, President Biden clarified his stance on the separation of families on the border and ended the policy of zero tolerance.
In 2018, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end politics that resulted in thousands of family separations and criticism from Democrats and Republicans.
Although the policy ended in 2018 after increasing criticism, the Justice Department decided on January 26 to jointly overturn everything.
Alex Martinez, immigration attorney for the Rio Grande Valley, said the change could mean less discretion in prosecuting border crimes. Instead, the court would focus more on people at high risk.
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“It means they will try to use most of the government funds on those who pose the greatest risk to the country’s national security.” Martinez said, “So they will try to stop eliminating the number of facilities, officials and lawyers, and focus on those who are low priority.”
Martinez said people at high risk will be detained and he believes President Biden will pursue a more humanitarian policy of family separation.
According to Martinez, the US cannot find the parents of hundreds of children right now.
However, Martinez believes it shouldn’t be difficult to reunite these families thanks to the county’s government resources.
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“I would think as long as you have one of the parents or family members who report to the American government and say, hey, I’m looking for my kid.” Martinez said, “It’s not that difficult to reconcile this child’s DNA with this family member. The number of resources we use to collect DNA for 700 children is by no means that complex.”
Martinez said it should only take a few weeks to reunite families unless nobody claims the child.
Martinez said he has a large number of clients incarcerated but recently they were allowed to go before an immigration judge to present their case.