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Policy change led to 2-year-old deportation case, Law Prof. says

Posted at 5:25 PM, Oct 02, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) -- — Questions continue to arise as to why a 2-year-old girl will be prosecuted for deportation in Omaha.

In May, a 2-year-old girl and her father came to the U.S./Mexico border from Guatemala. The father was arrested for felony Re-Entry of a Removed Alien. The girl was separated from her dad, moved to New York State for months, and then taken to Omaha to live with her uncle. Her deportation case is being transferred from New York to Omaha Immigration Court.

Both U.S. Customs Immigration Services and the Executive Office for Immigration Review told 3 News Now to contact ICE.

“For privacy reasons, ICE does not release any information about juveniles. However, when aliens illegally enter the United States with their foreign-born children, all family members are placed into removal proceedings.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of U.S. immigration law may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.

Aliens processed for removal may receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges,” said Shawn Neudauer, ICE Public Affairs Officer.

Kevin Ruser, Professor of Immigration Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says the law hasn't changed but the way the law is handled has. Previously, he says, they used to use prosecutorial discretion to only go after people with criminal histories, or who had been removed before. Often children were not prosecuted or put on an inactive docket.

Since January 2017 he says discretion has been eliminated so everyone is prosecuted.

"What's happened is that by making everyone a priority then there are no priorities at all, and so resources get spread thin,” Ruser explained. “By making everyone a priority you’re stretching the resources so thin that people’s hearing dates are being pushed out 4 years.”

The 2-year-old’s deportation court hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.