Beginning in late June, reports began to leak out regarding a new “surge initiative” that has been put into place internally by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). According to reports, this program is designed to target parents, relatives and sponsors who allegedly paid smugglers to get children into the country. News of this new policy was immediately met with sharp criticism from pro-immigrant groups. Here, our immigration law firm explains the basics of what we know about the surge initiative as well as why this policy will hurt immigrant families.
The Surge Initiative: Explained
Beginning in 2014, there was a sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied minors coming across the Southern Border. For the most part, these minors came from three countries: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. All three countries were facing especially high rates of violence related to the drug trade. In response, the Obama Administration enacted the Central American Minors (CAM) Program, a legal policy that allowed certain children to seek legal refugee status in the United States.
The Stated Goal of the Surge Initiative
The ‘Surge Initiative’ marks an extreme change in direction for the federal government. The CAM program allowed migrant children to obtain legal status in the United States while they lived with a sponsor. That sponsor, usually a parent or another relative, was then placed in charge of caring for the child. The Trump Administration is now targeting many of those sponsors. If ICE agents determine that a sponsor, be it a parent or another relative, paid any party to help get their child into the United States, that person could be subject to immediate arrest.
Why the Surge Initiative Hurts Vulnerable Families
As has been a repeated issue with the Trump Administration’s immigration enforcement agenda, there is mass confusion regarding this new policy. As of right now, it is still unclear as to how much of a “surge” in enforcement there has actually been. This has led to a situation in which rumors are spreading fast, and many families are worried.
An anonymous specialist with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) told the McClatchy DC Bureau that refugee kids are “basically being used as bait”. This person stated that he personally knew of at least four cases in which parents of unaccompanied minors have been targeted by immigration officials. Yet, it is unclear as to how this policy works. There has been no public statement from ICE on this issue. We will keep a very close watch on any new developments on the surge initiative. Should you or a loved one be targeted by immigration enforcement, please contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
Reach Out to an Immigration Lawyer if You Have Been in an ICE Raid
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our team is dedicated to supporting immigrants and their families. If you are need of immigration help, please do not hesitate to call us today to schedule your fully confidential initial legal consultation. We serve communities throughout Southern California, including in Los Angeles County and Orange County.