Stephen Miller floated plan to embed ICE agents in refugee agency: report

The White House this month tried to plant immigration enforcement officials in the refugee agency that oversees unaccompanied migrant children, according to The Washington Post.

The plan, which was crafted by Stephen Miller, President Trump’s top immigration adviser who has advocated for some of the White House’s most hardline policies, is part of an ongoing effort to obtain information from the children’s parents and relatives to target them for deportation, six current and former administration officials told The Post. 

Senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ultimately rejected the attempt but did allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to collect fingerprints and other biometric information from parents trying to collect their children at government shelters, the newspaper reported. If the adults were determined to be ineligible to take custody of the children, the agents could then use the information they gathered to target them for arrest and deportation.

The Post reports the arrangement appeared to violate laws that prevent the use of refugee programs for deportation enforcement, but Trump administration officials maintain that adults who are denied custody of their children lose their status as “potential sponsors” and are eligible for arrest.

The program appears to stem from Miller’s longtime claims that parents are manipulating HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement by hiring smugglers to bring their children into the U.S. illegally.

Officials acknowledged to the Post that the plan would instill fear in immigrants but maintained that it would serve as a deterrent to parents from sending their children into the U.S. illegally.

Officials at ICE and HHS told the Post that the information shared with enforcement agents would mostly be used to screen adults for criminal offenses and other “red flags,” and would not be primarily used to arrest parents and relatives claim “unaccompanied alien children.”

Neither the White House nor HHS immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill.

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