Trump just made it even harder for migrant families to be reunited
Central American migrants traveling in the "Migrant Via Crucis" line up outside Padre Chava's soup kitchen in Tijuana, Mexico for breakfast and legal counseling on April 27, 2018. Image via Guillermo Arias/AFP.

Parents hoping to claim their migrant children from the Department of Health and Human Services will soon have to provide fingerprints if they wish to be reunited with their kids.


NBC News reported Tuesday that the Trump administration's new policy reversed HHS' former practice of exempting parents from scanning their fingerprints in a system that would tell officials whether they'd been convicted of any crimes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) floated the policy under the Obama administration, but HHS pushed back at the time because "the process could delay family reunification and possibly intimidate parents from claiming their children."

Steve Wagner, the Acting Assistant Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Administration for Children and Families, told NBC that "parents who do not want to claim their own children may not be fit to be parents" in response to questions about whether the policy reversal will deter parents from going to get their children from HHS.

The new policy will be enacted after Homeland Security and HHS finalize their memorandum, and will not require the approval of Congress. NBC noted that "it is unclear whether the agencies will allow the fingerprints to be used for immigration enforcement in the agreement."

The reversal comes days after an HHS spokesperson admitted during a Senate hearing that the department could not account for the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 migrant children in the agency's care when making follow-up calls to the homes they'd been placed in.