U.S. Attorney dismisses all child separation cases
FAR WEST TEXAS - In a memo to the courts, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas announced Thursday it would dismiss all criminal cases of illegal entry and illegal re-entry involving children.
The only exception to the rule would be in the case of illegal re-entrants, who had a serious criminal record.
“They’re going to take a look at those,” said Maureen Franco, federal public defender of the Western District of Texas of El Paso. “In all likelihood if somebody has a serious criminal history, they won’t dismiss those cases.”
The announcement came just a day after President Trump signed his executive order to cease the separation of migrant children and their parents, in cases where they had attempted to enter the United States illegally. Many questioned the function of his order, since it failed to address the lack of adequate infrastructure available for housing family units.
“There are family detention centers that are capable of holding families together, but they have a limited capacity, and many are already maxed out,” said Chris Carlin, and Alpine-based federal public defender of the Western District of Texas. “They were probably at capacity even before the zero tolerance policy.”
Carlin added that the announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s office was a significant one. “This is essentially a complete reversal of the Department of Justice’s zero tolerance directive,” he said.
The dismissals amount to dozens of cases in the Pecos Division, according to sources.
The Western District stretches from El Paso to Waco. The Pecos division includes Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Ward and Winkler counties.
The U.S. Attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.