On February 20, 2017, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John Kelly issued a memorandum entitled “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies”. In a section entitled “Accountability Measures to Protect Alien Children from Exploitation and Prevent Abuses of Our Immigration Laws,” the Kelly Memo states that to counter “smuggling or trafficking of alien children” by “parents and family members of these children,”
[T]he Director of [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)] and the Commissioner of [U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)] shall ensure the proper enforcement of our immigration laws against any individual who—directly or indirectly—facilitates the illegal smuggling or trafficking of an alien child into the United States. In appropriate cases, taking into account the risk of harm to the child from the specific smuggling or trafficking activity that the individual facilitated and other factors relevant to the individual’s culpability and the child’s welfare, proper enforcement includes (but is not limited to) placing any such individual who is a removable alien into removal proceedings, or referring the individual for criminal prosecution.
On April 11, 2017, Attorney General Jefferson Sessions issued a memorandum to federal prosecutors instructing them to make criminal prosecutions for immigration-related offenses, including for smuggling-related conduct, “higher priorities.”
Now noncitizen family members of children in removal proceedings are at increased risk of being placed in removal proceedings themselves if the government believes that they have “facilitated” a child’s unlawful entry into the United States, whether “direct or indirectly.” Family members may also face federal criminal charges instead of or in addition to these removal proceedings.
If you have a child in removal proceedings, please contact an experienced attorney.
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