Monday, 20 November, 2017

Homeland Security chief backtracks on splitting families

The number of people caught trying to enter the United States typically increases as the weather warms Immigration arrests at Mexican border continue to plummet
Sammy Stanley | 07 April, 2017, 02:12

Human Rights First today submitted a statement for the record to the Senate committee urging senators to question Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly on how he intends to safeguard USA borders while still upholding the United States' legal commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told members of Congress on Wednesday that he doesn't envision a wall stretching the entire length of the USA border with Mexico, and would instead focus on building additional fencing where it was most feasible.

President Donald Trump has long promised a "big, beautiful, powerful wall" on the United States-Mexico border - but will he find anyone willing to build it?

Later in the hearing, Kelly explored other reasons why he thinks that fewer people are crossing the southwest border into the USA, which include improving economic conditions in migrants' home countries and rising prices charged by coyotes helping to smuggle people across the border. "[Congress] is not going to sign a blank check for a wall that we know is never going to be built". He did not provide a cost for any of these barriers to the Senate committee. Kelly said that both physical structures and technological devices help stem the flow of illegal immigrants and harmful substances, such as methamphetamine and cocaine.

Only 1,125 children travelling with guardians, who are mostly women, were apprehended at the southern U.S. border in March.

"March marks the fifth-straight month of decline and is estimated to be approximately 71 percent lower than the December 2016 total [of] 58,478 ... U.S. But I think we are going to do this in a very thoughtful manner", Johnson added.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the committee's top Democrat, said Trump needs to acknowledge there won't be a Mexican-funded wall stretching across the southern border.

The White House made a request for $1 billion to begin construction of the wall as part of its push to boost spending on defense and border security. A lot of us hoped there would be a lot less money would be put into border security.

"We've seen an absolutely wonderful drop in the number of migrants coming out of Central America taking that terribly unsafe route from Central America into the United States", Kelly said.

"Physical barriers work", Kelly asserted, but he said in talking with Customs and Border Protection managers on the ground, he heard from them that physical barriers may not work in some areas along the rugged landscape along the southern border.

Kelly said device searches and ideological questioning would only happen under unusual circumstances.

But Wednesday, Kelly said such a separation of families would only take place on rare occasions, "if the situation at the time requires it", such as if the mother is sick or addicted to drugs.


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