Border Patrol agents are no longer planning to enforce the White House’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, POLITICO reports, and it’s leading to tension with the White House and Justice Department.
This started when Kevin McAleenan, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, spoke to reporters on Monday and told them that Border Patrol agents were not—at least temporarily—referring cases of immigrants parents and children for criminal prosecution, according to the Associated Press.
McAleenan cited Trump’s executive order reversing the family separation policy as the reason and noted that the facilities where families are being detained simply aren’t large enough, implying that “zero tolerance” can’t exist when families are supposed to be kept together.
Kevin McAleenan, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he temporarily stopped referring for criminal prosecution adults who cross the border illegally with kids https://t.co/myo53V2b7V pic.twitter.com/xjidJoDmQm
— POLITICO (@politico) June 25, 2018
McAleenan told ABC News that “the main guidepost is the welfare of the child” in keeping families together, but also denied any alleged inhumane treatment or wrongdoing during the period of family separations.
According to POLITICO, the executive order has been a source of political tension since it was passed; the vague language in it made it difficult for Border Patrol to enforce it.
Despite McAleenan’s public statement, the White House seem to be sticking with zero tolerance and denying any change: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a briefing that the White House was “not changing the policy,” but added, “We’re simply out of resources. And at some point, Congress has to do what they were elected to do.”
It doesn’t look that’s going to happen, however, considering Congress delayed a vote on immigration reform just last week.
It’s unclear how much longer the White House will claim that the zero tolerance policy is in effect, as it becomes increasingly obvious their policies are not working as they hoped.