The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity in immigration policy. Recently, President Donald Trump finally delivered on a campaign promise and managed to deliver constituents the travel ban. The Los Angeles Times called the Supreme Court decision to uphold the travel ban “the most significant legal victory of his presidency.”
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban certainly aided the Trump administration, which has struggled to tackle campaign promises like dismantling Obamacare. The Supreme Court’s decision also offers the Trump administration a victory over judges on both the East and West coasts who continuously used their powers to prevent the ban.
The travel ban had been revised from exclusively targeting Muslim nations, but the currently-implemented version covers, primarily, five Muslim-majority nations—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. However, the ban also covers North Korea, and some government officials from Venezuela.
The travel ban also rocketed the “zero-tolerance” policy into the forefront of discussion yet again, as the Trump administration battles immigration along the U.S. southern border.
The Trump administration has long sought to take a harder stance on immigration, and in the spring this year, passed a zero-tolerance policy, which has allowed criminal prosecution against those who cross the border without authorization.
This issue has caused public outcry because families are being separated at the border and held in custody.
The Health and Human Services department currently maintains custody of the children separated from their parents at the border. Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary, previously said that the department held just over 2,000 children in custody since May, but recently he has said that number is much closer to 3,000.
Under the zero-tolerance policy, unauthorized adults must be prosecuted, and minors with them must be separated from them. If parents claim asylum in the U.S., parents and children remain in custody until the claims are processed.
The Los Angeles Times also reports that often adults who had credible asylum claims would be allowed into the U.S. to live but with an ankle bracelet, or other way to monitor them electronically, until their hearing date. However, under Trump’s current stance, the adults must be held until their hearing date, which, could be months or years down the road.
Unfortunately, due to staggering backlog, asylum hearings can take months or years.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Azar, testifying on Capitol Hill, gave an ultimatum for families: the only way parents can quickly be reunited with their children is to drop their claims for asylum in the United States and agree to be deported.
In an effort to triage the situation while his administration could work out a solution, Trump signed an executive order late June allowing families to be detained together, so at the very minimum, they wouldn’t be separated, but still could be held indefinitely in immigration detention.
Meanwhile, the administration has struggled to come up with a solution.
After Azar admitted to Health and Human services about having close to 3,000 children in custody, on July 5 it was revealed that none of the families had yet been reunited. In events similar to the travel ban, judges have exercised their authority in an attempt to force a resolution from the federal government.
Federal District Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego has given the government until July 10 to reunite children younger than 5 with their parents. Azar told reporters that about 100 of the children held currently are less than 5.
Sabraw gave the administration until the end of the month to reunite all families.
Currently, the administration has struggled with a 1997 legal case colloquially called the Flores settlement. The Flores settlement has legal ramifications for holding families together indefinitely, as the current legal interpretation limits the length of time a child can spend in immigration detention to 20 days.
District Judge in Los Angeles Dolly M. Gee, who has overseen the Flores settlement for years, has faced pressure from immigration lawyers to interpret the settlement as allowing immigrants to be held with no limit while the government processes their asylum claims.
The issue is a powder keg set to blow with public outcry growing more and more prominent. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Pew Research Center poll released in late June shows an unprecedented tolerance for immigrants who don’t speak English, and that voters who support stricter immigration remain a minority in the U.S., but that they remain powerfully vocal given their positions in the Trump administration.