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DOJ rescinds the immigration law’ zero tolerance’

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A Trump-era memo that established a ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, which resulted in thousands of family separations, was rescinded by the Justice Department.

On Tuesday, the new memo was issued to federal prosecutors across the nation by Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson, saying the department would return to its long-standing previous policy and instruct prosecutors to act on the merits of individual cases.

“I am rescinding the policy directive, effective immediately, in accordance with this long-standing principle of making individualised assessments in criminal cases,” Wilkinson wrote.

Wilkinson said the principles of the department have “long stressed that decisions to bring criminal charges should not only include a determination that a federal offence has been committed and that the admissible evidence is likely to be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction, but should also take into account other individualised variables, including personal circumstances and criminal circumstances.”

The “zero tolerance” policy meant that it would prosecute any adult caught illegally crossing the border for illegal entry. Because children with their family members can not be imprisoned, families have been separated and children have been taken into custody by Health and Human Services, which manages unaccompanied children at the border.

While the rescinding of “zero tolerance” is symbolic in part, it undoes the massively unpopular policy of the Trump administration responsible for separating more than 5,500 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Since 2018, when separations were halted, most families have not been prosecuted under zero tolerance, although separations have continued on a smaller scale. Practically, the termination of the policy will affect mostly single men who have illegally entered the country. Prosecutions fell sharply after a pandemic-related health emergency was declared by the Trump administration, allowing them to immediately expel Mexicans and many Central Americans without applying immigration laws.

Wilkinson wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press, “While policies may change, our mission is always the same: seeking justice under the law.”

An executive order to undo some of Trump’s restrictive policies has been issued by President Joe Biden, but the previous administration has so altered the immigration landscape that it will take quite a while to untangle all the major changes. Some parents who were separated from their kids were deported. Family advocates have called on Biden to enable those families in the United States to reunite.

Then, along with Trump and other top leaders in his administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was bent on curbing immigration. The policy of “zero tolerance” was one of many more stringent measures to prevent migrants from accessing the southern border. Via a combination of executive orders and administrative changes, Trump’s administration has greatly decreased the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. and all but suspended asylum at the border.

The policy was a disaster; no mechanism for reuniting children with their families was established. A report from the inspector general of the Justice Department, published earlier this month, found that the strategy led to a funding deficit of $227 million. Children suffered lasting emotional trauma from the separation, and world leaders condemned the policy as profoundly inhumane.

Under an executive order that was issued without notice to all government departments that would have to administer the programme, including the U.S., the policy began on April 6, 2018. Health and Human Services Marshals Program and. It stopped on June 20, 2018. The families were ordered by a federal judge to be reunited.

Sessions and other top officials understood that the children would be divided under the programme and supported it, the oversight report also found. Justice officials dismissed staff worries about the rollout and did not bother to develop a system to track families to reunite them. There are already several children divided.

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