On May 8, 2018, in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published their notice of Modified System of Records. The System, currently titled “Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—007 Alien Criminal Response Information Management (ACRIMe),” permits the DHS to receive and respond to immigration status inquiries made by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. If implemented, ACRIMe will change to “Criminal History and Immigration Verification (CHIVe).” A difference in acronym is not all the DHS’S notice proposes to modify. Of prominence is that CHIVe will now add as a category of individuals covered by the System of Records, individuals seeking approval from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to sponsor unaccompanied minors awaiting status determinations. Public comments were due to DHS on June 7, 2018.
CHIVe stinks of a Trump administration attempt to form and control the narrative. In light of the criticized, extremely aggressive, and inhumane Zero Tolerance Policy (see USN Immigration Brief # 42 dated June 9, 2018), the administration is strongly guided to put forth some policy—any policy—to belt and suspenders the position that the United States is actively protecting the human rights of unaccompanied minors whom are forcibly ripped away from their parents and placed into the custody of DHHS. With roughly 1,500 unaccompanied minors lost in the DHHS sponsorship system in 2017, and a dramatic increase due to enforcement of the Zero Tolerance Policy, the administration is between a rock and hard place under the eyes of human rights watchdogs and the United Nations.
Why is this bad? Considering the (i) exorbitant amount of unaccompanied minors whom will now enter the sponsorship system, and (ii) thousands of unaccompanied minors whom are already unaccounted for, it seems reasonable and pro-social to enhance the System of Records on potential sponsors. The new policy is framed as a counterforce to any negative externalities caused to children by the Zero Tolerance Policy.
The Trump administration claims that with CHIVe, the government can take better care to protect unaccompanied minors from trafficking and smuggling. CHIVe is not bad in theory. But, theory and reality do not always purely align. In our non-xenophobic reality, CHIVe is catastrophic—the result counteracts protection of the rights and well-being of unaccompanied minors.
In fact, CHIVe dwindles the opportunity for sponsorship with parents/relatives as the data shows that many are undocumented, illegal aliens as well. When unaccompanied minors are apprehended by the federal government for illegally entering the United States, they cannot be criminally detained and are thus sent to the custody of the DHHS Office of Refugee Resettlement to be placed in sponsorship program. The hierarchy of sponsorship placement is parents, relatives, juvenile detention centers, and then foster care. With CHIVe, family members may no longer come forward to apply for sponsorship in fear of deportation or federal attention/abuse. Instead of being in the care of family, unaccompanied minors now face greater risk of placement into a defunct foster care system.
The Zero Tolerance Policy’s original intent was to threaten separation of families to deter people from crossing the border between port entries. Trump, claiming to be acting in the best interest of children through his, in reality, deplorable use of executive power, has implemented policies that when practiced cause and enhance long-term psychological trauma suffered by the children.
When analyzing public policies, identifying the underlying intent assists in the rationalization process. So, is it not irrational to entertain the possibility that DHS is baiting illegal immigrants with unaccompanied minors? One stroke of the executive pen determines the future for thousands of children. This is not a meaningless pledge to quiet the media or save face — THIS IS REAL. And, the world has witnessed that premature and arguably inhumane immigration procedures are worn by the Trump administration with as much pride as a green carnation on Oscar Wilde’s left lapel.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – Non-profit with a mission to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person.
- Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the U.S. Government – Online medium where DHS published notice and accepts public comments on CHIVe.
- FamiliesBelongTogether – A Grassroots organization demanding an end to the harmful family separation policies.
This Brief was developed by USRESIST NEWS Analyst J.R. Phillip: Contact Justin@usresistnews.org
Photo by Andrew Schultz