The Trump administration has decided to reverse the fingerprint policy implemented this summer, which according to immigration advocates led to the extended detention of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency no longer requires fingerprint checks for all adult members of a sponsor’s household when the sponsor applies to take in unaccompanied minors. However, sponsors will still be fingerprinted and have a background check done before an unaccompanied minor is released to their care, CNN informs, citing the spokesperson.
The decision has been made based on the agency’s perception that no additional information that would help determine possible risks to the children has generally been yielded by the checks of all household members. These fingerprint checks also meant that the unaccompanied minors stayed in HHS care considerably longer.
“Effective immediately, adult household members of any sponsor category do not require fingerprint background checks,” said an email sent to providers by the HHS. However, these checks will be required if information such as a public records check indicates additional information about household members is needed before a child is released to a sponsor.
A source familiar with the matter said the reversal could result in about 3,000 children being released by the end of the year.
Lately, due to the prolonged stay of minors at tent facilities, there have been concerns about the behavioral health issues of these children and the violence among them as these facilities are not equipped to deal with such issues, the source added.
Operators of temporary tent facilities welcomed the change saying, “We are greatly encouraged by this. This will help all caregivers reduce the time these children stay in shelters and give them the foundation they need to thrive and prosper.”