The government's "zero tolerance" immigration policy has become a hot-button topic across the nation, and it's having an impact right here in Nebraska.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says about 2,000 children have been placed in these shelters in the last 6 weeks. Current policy says anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally faces criminal prosecution, but the kids are separated because they are not charged with a crime.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says they do not have an "Unaccompanied Minors Program" and haven't been asked to take any of the children. Plus they're not at capacity for refugee resettlement.
Attorney Tom Campbell represents many immigrants in the Omaha area and says "zero tolerance" is a policy, not a law, and it's inhumane.
"The impact has been tremendous. I have clients who come to my office crying because they have no idea where their family is and the government won't tell them and because certain individuals are being charged criminally for having come in the country they're deemed criminals and the government will not give any information out," Campbell explained.
The U.S. Attorney General says that not all individuals coming here are families, and the previous administration allowed "loopholes" that let immigrants cross the border with children without being prosecuted.
Campbell says this doesn't have to happen.
"We pay taxes, we are responsible for the people that they send here, and if we had a humane policy and Congress would pass legislation we could manage this and we wouldn't have the catastrophe on our hands that we do now," Campbell concluded.
Families are the heart of our society and way of life. We should not be separating them at the border because of outdated and broken immigration policies, but instead protecting them by finding suitable shelter and speeding up the adjudication process. pic.twitter.com/MF5ThWgRbJ
— Rep. Don Bacon (@RepDonBacon) June 18, 2018
On Monday, Senator Deb Fischer released this statement to KMTV 3 News Now: "I share the concerns of many Nebraskans about the separation of young children from parents. The focus shouldn't be on politicizing this issue. What we need is a targeted legislative fix."
Congress can act to provide humane sheltering, expedite processing of genuine asylum cases, and immediately prosecute those exploiting children.
— Jeff Fortenberry (@JeffFortenberry) June 18, 2018