Maria Woltjen on Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy

Zero-tolerance immigration policy created 'manufactured crisis' that lawyers are needed to address

“We started seeing these cases in September of 2017—the government was separating children in different parts of the border,” said Maria Woltjen, founder and executive director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago Law School. “We went to reporters and tried to get attention. They all said: ‘Well, I can’t do anything about it until it’s policy,’ and so until it actually became a policy, people really didn’t see that this was happening.”

However, Sessions’ April directive to U.S. attorney’s offices caught many other government agencies and nonprofits off guard.

“When zero tolerance was announced, this was actually new news for the individuals running the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the deportation officers, and policies and details were not in place,” Chandler said. “This was orchestrated to be a manufactured crisis.”

Chandler and Woltjen spoke on Saturday as part of the ABA Annual Meeting panel event “Families on the Precipice: Navigating the Separation, Detention and Reunification of Families at the U.S. Border,” sponsored by the Commission on Immigration.

Read more at ABA Journal