Washington, DC – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have been told to stop referring illegal aliens who cross the border with their children for federal prosecution, an anonymous U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told The Washington Post on Thursday.
“We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units until ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] can accelerate resource capability to allow us to maintain custody,” the official said, according to the paper.
The Department of Homeland Security made the decision to cease the prosecution of illegal immigrants with children because its was not logistically “feasible” for kids to be brought to courtrooms during their parents’ hearings, the official said.
President Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday which prevents children from being separated from their parents after illegally crossing the border, which has created the new hurdle.
ICE also lacks the detention capacity to hold an increased number of family units in custody, so many illegal aliens with children are expected to be released from custody to await their court proceedings, the official added.
Illegal aliens who cross the border without children will continue to be prosecuted under the “zero tolerance” policy.
According to the source, agents were told about the new directive on Wednesday evening.
However, Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said that the prosecution of illegal immigrants would continue, regardless as to whether or not the illegal alien crossed the border with children.
“There has been no change to the Department’s zero tolerance policy to prosecute adults who cross our border illegally instead of claiming asylum at any port of entry at the border,” Flores told The Washington Post.
But without referrals from CBP agents, it was unclear how else prosecutors could be notified about the federal law violations.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials are waiting to see if the policy change leads to a spike in the number of illegal aliens who cross the border with children in tow, the anonymous official said.