Kinder, Gentler Family Separation?
Immediately after President Joe Biden took office, he instructed acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson to rescind former President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Buried in the news coverage of Biden’s gesture was the fact that the updated guidance did not stop family separations. It just told prosecutors to use their discretion.
Wilkinson said federal prosecutors should not rule out charging border crossers with misdemeanors, which requires family separation when parents are taken into custody. But prosecutors should “take into account other individualized factors,” he wrote, “including personal circumstances and criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, and the probable sentence or other consequences that would result from a conviction.”
That certainly represents an improvement on Trump’s approach, which required that federal prosecutors charge every single adult immigrant who crossed the border illegally. But while that policy was without nuan
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