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Immigration lawyer explains why families are being separated

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 20:36:16-04

The separation of families has been on the national spotlight since attorney Jeff Sessions announced the "Zero-tolerance" policy regarding undocumented people requesting asylum once they're on United States soil. 

Immigration lawyer, Maurice Goldman says the law has always been the same and nothing has changed. An undocumented person would seek asylum at a port of entry. By law, the United States has an obligation to give individuals a hearing. 

"Many of them will start with an interview called a credible fear interview, and that interview will then determine whether or not they have a credible enough fear to then be referred to see an immigration judge," says Goldman. 

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Traditionally, they would keep families together, but if there were unaccompanied minors or children, they would go through a different path to determine if they have been abused, neglected or abandoned. 

Attorney General, Jeff Sessions says there is a zero-tolerance policy for anyone claiming to seek asylum but don't go through the correct process. 

The Department of Homeland Security will now immediately charge an adult with entering the country illegally if found on U.S. soil and not at the port of entry. 

"What they'll do is put them in criminal court proceedings, take the children, separate them and put them in separate detention holding," says Goldman. 

But Goldman says, the process to seek asylum has been longer. "I heard that our government was not processing people as they have traditionally and people were stuck waiting on the other side of the border, and some people would get impatient." 

Growing impatient and seeking other ways to enter the United States. 

The Department of Homeland Security says they're only referring undocumented adults who violate the law by crossing the border illegally - without entering the proper way which is at any port of entry. 

Families will only be separated if: 

  • Unable to determine a relationship
  • When a child may be at risk with the parents
  • When parents are referred to criminal prosecution

RELATED: Immigrant kids seen held in fenced cages at border facility

According to DHS' website, they can't hold families in detention beyond 20 days. 

Goldman says, there are still questions with how these families - if ever - will be reunited. "Ultimately what can happen is the parents can wind up being charged with a crime, put in criminal proceedings and then get deported, and the children are still here." 

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