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US has arrested 170 immigrants who tried to claim migrant children

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U.S. immigration authorities arrested 170 people between early July and late November who came forward to claim migrant children in government custody, according to official data released on Monday, a crackdown advocates say is discouraging relatives from volunteering to take in some of the 14,000 detained children.

Of those arrested, 61 were classified as criminal while the other 109 had only committed immigration violations, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Matthew Bourke.

President Donald Trump won the White House on a promise to crack down on illegal immigrants and he has ordered more aggressive enforcement to dissuade migrants from crossing the U.S. southern border.

U.S. laws and legal precedent limit the time migrant juveniles can be detained, so those caught crossing the border alone are often released to their parents or other close relatives.

About 80 percent of potential sponsors that ICE conducted checks on in that five-month period were in the United States unlawfully, said Bourke.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cares for the migrant children, while the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforces immigration law and oversees ICE.

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HHS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In April, HHS and DHS agreed they would share more information about children and their potential sponsors. That information was not previously routinely shared. HHS now provides immigration authorities with names, dates of birth, and fingerprints of potential sponsors. All adult members of the potential sponsor’s household must also be fingerprinted, something not required in the past.

The government says it wants to ensure that potential sponsors are suitable and properly vetted. But immigrant advocates have criticized the policy change, saying it is scaring parents and other relatives from claiming their children.

On Nov. 28, 112 organizations wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging them to reverse the policy.

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“Your agencies have taken a process designed to protect children and made it into a tool that uses them to find and deport their families,” they wrote.

In September, senior ICE official Matthew Albence testified to Congress that ICE had arrested 41 people who came forward to sponsor immigrant children. The figures provided by ICE on Monday include the 41 people mentioned by Albence, Bourke said.

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Kristina Cooke; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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WATCH: Here’s the secret to dissecting Trump’s chaotic distractions

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In an extended examination on MSNBC, host Ari Melber took a hard look at how President Donald Trump creates almost daily distractions for the media and the public to keep the focus off his multiple scandals and to make it look like he is doing something -- when all he is doing is creating controversy for controversy's sake.

Put simply, Melber explained, the president's tweets out some plan he has no intention of implementing, hypes it up for days -- then drops it like it never happened.

Using Trump's aborted attack on Iran as a jumping off point, Melber -- and his panel -- explained that Trump's style of governing is based on "head fakes" and "bluffs."

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Chuck Todd’s terrible interview with fabricator-in-chief Trump snapped the tether: From here on out there’s no truth

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Nothing will ever be the same again. Donald Trump’s unwavering disregard for reality and his acts of violence against the truth are rapidly metastasizing into the marrow of the national debate. I'm not sure we have enough heroes in this country to successfully extricate Trumpism and toss it into the biohazard waste bin of history, along other embarrassments in America's mixed record.

The very fabric of right and wrong in America is disintegrating as one of our two major parties, with some crucial help from Russia, has convinced four out of every 10 voters that verifiable truth is nothing more than a fake news plot against them and their beloved Fifth Avenue Clampetts. As a result, half of the political debate, from the local level on up, is built exclusively on wrongness — on total nonsense, invented by Trump himself along with his propaganda cable network.

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New York’s legislature gives landlords a lesson in democracy

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The knockout punch that the New York State Legislature just landed fighting landlords over spiraling rents ought to be attracting wider attention.

Just as with healthcare access or prescription drug prices, the cost of rent increases that mostly benefit big apartment owners is a challenge to the income-gap society that are at the heart of the national political debate. Every urban center in the country is having housing problems, and rents, like mortgages, are a subject at every kitchen table.

For once, the New York Legislature, whose Democrats overcame internecine divisions this session, has abolished rules that let building owners deregulate apartments, and closed loopholes that have permitted landlords to raise rents. And the changes for better tenant protection were made permanent, eliminating the recurring drama over these issues.

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