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DHS And Homeland Security Sharing Information Illegally, Say Rights Groups

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Gregory Bull
/
AP
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen takes a look at a plaque adorning a newly fortified border wall structure in Calexico, Calif., in October.

More than 100 rights groups have sent a letter to the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security demanding a halt to what they call the illegal information sharing between agencies.

Immigrant advocates and privacy rights groups say the federal government is using traumatized children to gather information and deport family members living in the U.S. illegally. A federal settlement agreement requires detained children be released as soon as possible. However, according to immigration attorney Bradley Jenkins, the government’s information sharing policy is scaring families away from sponsoring children that claim asylum at the border.

“Frankly, we’re already seeing that the number of children in detention has really just exploded,” Jenkins said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently justified its policy to Congress, saying that 80 percent of the families willing to sponsor detained children are themselves in the country illegally.