The Biden administration said a previous policy checking the immigration status of potential sponsors of unaccompanied minors discouraged parents or other close family members from reuniting with unaccompanied minors in custody. File Photo by Justin Hamel/UPI | License Photo
March 12 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Friday announced the end of a Trump-era policy to check the immigration status of caregivers who come forward to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children.
The Departments of Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security said they're terminating the 2018 agreement, which they said discouraged caregivers from coming forward to sponsor the children.
The Trump administration implemented enhanced background checks in 2018 that required a potential sponsor to submit fingerprints of all people living in their household before HHS would release unaccompanied migrant children into their care.
By the end of that year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it arrested 170 undocumented adults seeking to sponsor unaccompanied children, more than half of whom didn't have a criminal record.
HHS and the Department of Homeland Security said they've signed a new agreement to promote "the safe and timely transfer of children" to sponsors, which the administration said was usually a parent who crossed the border before their children and later sent for them, or other close relative.
"The new agreement does not change safeguards designed to ensure unaccompanied children are unified with properly vetted sponsors who can safely care for them while they await immigration proceedings," a statement read.
The change in policy comes as President Joe Biden continues to undo former President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
Among the changes are new guidelines to reduce arrests and deportations of those who have entered the country illegally, and allowing potentially tens of thousands of migrants and refugees to wait out their immigration cases in the United States instead of in Mexico or other Latin American countries as directed by Trump under his controversial "Remain in Mexico" plan.
Internal Border Patrol documents viewed by CNN and CBS News earlier this month indicated more than 3,200 children were being held in CBP custody. The majority were awaiting placement in shelters suitable for minors.