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Is the “zero tolerance” immigration policy new?

In recent weeks, the news of the Trump administration's move to further criminalize border crossings has dominated headlines across the media. In many cases, these headlines focus on the controversial practice of detaining parents and separating them from their children when border patrol agents find them crossing the United States border. For many, it seems as if this is a completely new practice that emerged out of nowhere, but that is not the case.

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would enforce immigration violations as criminal acts instead of treating violations of immigration policy as a civil matter. Under the previous policies, official procedures mandated that parents who crossed the border with children were detained and given orders to appear before a court for a civil violation, then released. Under the new policy, those who violate immigration policies by crossing the border with their children now face criminal charges and imprisonment.

This policy is not completely unprecedented. In 2005, a similar policy treated immigration violations as criminal acts. Under that policy, known as "Operation Streamline," individuals whom the border patrol apprehended faced up to six months of jail time for their initial violation and up to two years behind bars for felony re-entry if they returned.

Often, it is difficult to separate the law from the emotions that it stirs up in us, especially when it comes to parents separated from their children. If you or someone you love faces charges for an alleged immigration violation, be sure to understand the laws that apply to your circumstances. This can help you build a strong defense and fight for fair treatment for yourself and the ones you love.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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