U.S. Rep. Condemns ICE Fingerprinting Policy As ‘Injecting Fear Into Family Reunification’

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal speaks at a press conference outside a Federal Detention Center holding migrant women on June 9, 2018, in SeaTac, Washington.


Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images.

After TYT reported that a new policy requires all adults in households looking to sponsor immigrant children to be fingerprinted, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.) told TYT that the Trump administration is “running our nation through fear and chaos.”

Last weekend, she and other members of Congress visited a Texas Border Patrol processing center and other facilities, calling what she saw “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

The joint Department of Homeland Security and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) policy, which took effect in June, requires ORR to collect fingerprints and biometric data from all adults in households seeking to take in undocumented children detained by the federal government and send the information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This data sharing with ICE is already deterring families from sponsoring children, a case manager at an unaccompanied immigrant child shelter told TYT.

Previously, ORR only fingerprinted the primary adult sponsor of an immigrant child, and even then, often did not require fingerprints if the sponsor was the child’s parent. Now sponsor families, which overwhelmingly include undocumented adults, must consider that giving ICE their data could put them at risk for deportation.

In a statement to TYT, Jayapal said that following the Trump administration’s no-tolerance policy, “communities have already seen ICE ruthlessly target sponsors of unaccompanied children—many are too fearful of putting their families at risk to come forward and claim their children.”

The intent of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) is for sponsor data to be used only for child well-being, to screen for human traffickers or other ill-meaning adults, but ICE is now using the data for immigration enforcement. And while the Trump administration claims that its policies are meant to protect children from trafficking, immigrant rights experts say it is instead putting kids at greater risk of trafficking.

This is Jayapal’s full statement:

“This administration is running our nation through fear and chaos. After terrorizing families by ripping parents and children apart at our borders, they are now injecting fear into family reunification as well. Requiring fingerprinting for all adults in a household before families can be reunited will only further exacerbate the family separation crisis that Trump created. Our communities have already seen ICE ruthlessly target sponsors of unaccompanied children—many are too fearful of putting their families at risk to come forward and claim their children. Forcing families to provide fingerprints that will be shared with ICE under the guise of child welfare is wrong and unjust. The Trump administration should be doing everything in its power to quickly reunite families, not putting up more unnecessary hurdles and intimidating families.”

Jayapal, a progressive Democrat, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and is co-chair of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform. An immigrant herself, she has been a fierce advocate for immigrant rights in her first term in Congress. In June, she visited a federal prison holding immigrant women separated from their children.

The representative was arrested on June 28 while protesting the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, separation of families, and arrests of immigrants seeking asylum.

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