Exclusive: Brazil facilitates deportation of its nationals after U.S. pressure

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands during a bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Lisandra Paraguassu

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil is making it easier for the United States to deport undocumented Brazilians by asking U.S. airlines to board deportees even when they have no valid passports, following pressure from the Trump administration, three Brazilian government sources said.

The Federal Police sent airlines a memo in June allowing them to board Brazilian deportees with just a certificate of nationality issued by a consulate if they lack a valid passport, previously needed to travel to Brazil, the sources said.

The move by right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s government aims to facilitate repatriation of deportees by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and efforts by the Trump administration to speed the removal of undocumented immigrants.

The officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said Brazil has come under increasing pressure from the Trump administration to facilitate deportations of its detained nationals, to the point of risking sanctions.

They did not detail what kind of sanctions.

“When Donald Trump became U.S. president, illegal immigration became a central political issue. Pressure increased a lot and Brazil was even threatened with sanctions,” one of the sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Brazil was labeled as “at risk of non-compliance” with the repatriation of deportees in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report in March on the barriers ICE faces to timely removal of detained immigrants.

Trump has been cracking down on recalcitrant countries that do not accept immigrants ordered deported, under an executive order issued immediately after he took office.

The deportation of undocumented Brazilians has risen from 1,413 in fiscal year 2017 to 1,691 in fiscal 2018, with Brazilians the sixth-largest group of nationals being removed from the United States, according to ICE data.

This fiscal year there have been 1,117 removals of Brazilians through June 10, ICE said. The U.S. fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that certificates of nationality are issued by its consulates in the United States when detained deportees have exhausted their appeals process and have no passport. Brazilian passports are issued only to nationals who apply for them.

Many countries have arrangements with the U.S. government and foreign countries that allow for a document – other than a passport – issued by an embassy or consulate to serve as an authorization to travel.

Delta Airlines and American Airlines did not respond to requests for comment.

As of December, there were 334 Brazilians in ICE detention awaiting trial or deportation, the ministry said.

Since he took office in January, Bolsonaro has established close ties with Trump and the two are looking to negotiate a trade agreement.

Bolsonaro has made disparaging statements about immigrants. In March, speaking on Fox News during a visit to Washington, he praised Trump’s plan for a wall on the Mexican border, adding that “most immigrants do not have good intentions.”

His son Eduardo Bolsonaro, whom he has nominated to be Brazil’s ambassador in Washington, told reporters during that visit that illegal Brazilian immigrants were “a problem for Brazil, an embarrassment to us.”

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassú; additional reporting and writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Dan Grebler)

U.S. judge blocks Trump’s latest sweeping asylum rule

Migrants wait to apply for asylum in the United States outside the El Chaparral border, in Tijuana, Mexico July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

By Daniel Trotta and Kristina Cooke

(Reuters) – A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a new rule that aimed to bar almost all asylum applications at the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rule, which would require asylum-seekers to first pursue safe haven in a third country they had traveled through on their way to the United States.

The decision makes inconsequential a ruling by Washington D.C. District Judge Timothy Kelly earlier in the day that declined to block the rule in a different lawsuit brought by immigration advocacy groups, lawyers said.

The Trump administration had been quick to celebrate that decision, saying it would discourage abuse of the asylum process.

Following the action by the San Francisco court, the rule will now be suspended pending further proceedings.

“Today’s ruling is an important victory for incredibly vulnerable individuals and families,” said Melissa Crow, an attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Center – one of the groups challenging the ban – in a statement.

The Trump administration has sought to curtail the increasing numbers of mostly Central American migrants arriving at the U.S. -Mexico border after fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It has characterized the vast majority of their asylum claims as bogus.

After the White House announced the rule on July 15, the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups sued in California on the grounds it violates U.S. law that welcomes those who come to the United States fleeing persecution at home.

Immigration is shaping up to be a focus of the presidential campaign again in 2020. In the 2016 election, voters rewarded then-candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, sending him to the White House after he promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

DANGERS IN MEXICO

Opponents of the new rule contend the United States cannot force migrants to first apply for asylum in another country, such as Mexico or Guatemala, unless Washington first has a “safe third country” agreement with that government. Both Mexico and Guatemala have resisted Trump administration efforts to reach such a deal.

In an hour-long hearing in California, Tigar said he was struck by the dangers faced by people passing through Mexico, which was significant because the Trump administration argued that country was a safe haven.

“The administrative record about the dangers faced by persons transiting through Mexico and the inadequacy of the asylum system there … is stunning,” Tigar said from the bench.

Tigar in November struck down a different asylum ban that attempted to block all migrants crossing illegally from asking for refuge in the United States.

The Trump administration has issued a rapid-fire series of anti-immigration edicts recently.

Last week, the administration issued another rule to expedite deportations for immigrants who have crossed illegally within the last two years and are caught anywhere in the United States. The rule eliminated a level of judicial review and expanded a program typically applied only along the southern border with Mexico.

Democrats have blasted the policies as cruel, faulting the Trump administration for warehousing migrants in crowded detention facilities along the border and separating immigrant children from the adults they have traveled with.

(This story corrects date rule was announced to July 15 in paragraph 8).

(Reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco, Mica Rosenberg and Daniel Trotta in New York, and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sonya Hepinstall)

U.S. immigration raids that targeted 2,100 people snared 35: NY Times

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees watch from a window as activists hold the "Shutdown ICE" rally in Washington, U.S., July 16, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

(Reuters) – A scant 35 people were taken into custody during a long-threatened U.S. series of raids that targeted more than 2,100 immigrants who had been ordered deported, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing federal figures.

President Donald Trump described the raids over the July 13 weekend, dubbed “Operation Border Resolve,” as “very successful” even though much of the activity was not visible to the public.

The raids, originally scheduled for June for a dozen major U.S. cities, were highly publicized, likely prompting many who believed they were targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to leave their homes or hide, the Times reported.

As word spread about the possible ICE raids, immigration rights groups circulated “know your rights” materials in immigrant communities and on social media while local activists advised people not to answer the door to agents without a warrant and not to talk or sign any documents without a lawyer present.

Trump signaled the impending enforcement in a June tweet, saying officials would soon “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

Facing a re-election battle next year, Trump has wanted to show his supporters that he is delivering on campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration, a signature policy objective of his administration.

He has pushed Guatemala, Mexico and other countries in the region to act as buffer zones and take in asylum seekers who would otherwise go to the United States.

Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that he is now considering a “ban,” tariffs and remittance fees after Guatemala decided to not move forward with a safe-third-country agreement that would have required the Central American nation to take in more asylum seekers.

It was not immediately clear what policies he was referring to. The White House and the Guatemalan government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

Marathon church session ends as Dutch let Armenian family stay

FILE PHOTO: A protestant church holds round-the-clock sermons in an attempt to prevent the extradition of an Armenian family of political refugees, in The Hague, the Netherlands December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eva Plevier/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A round-the-clock prayer service to stop an Armenian family being deported from the Netherlands was ended after 96 days on Wednesday after the government agreed to make an exception to immigration rules.

Using a law that bars police from entering a place of worship while a service is in progress, hundreds of supporters of the Tamrazyan family have held rites non-stop at the Bethel church in The Hague since Oct. 26 to block their deportation.

Late on Tuesday, the cabinet decided to allow the Tamrazyans and other families rejected for permanent residence after living for years in the Netherlands to stay in the country after all.

The families, which together have around 700 children, did not qualify for an exemption granted to minors living in the Netherlands for more than five years.

To avoid other families with no other prospect of qualifying for permanent residence taking root in the Netherlands, the government will also try to speed up asylum procedures.

“We are incredibly grateful that hundreds of refugee families will have a safe future in the Netherlands,” a spokesman for Bethel Church, Theo Hettema, said on Wednesday.

But he said the church was worried about the consequences for future immigration policy.

The fight over the “children’s pardon” put pressure on Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right government, which has only a one-seat majority in parliament’s Lower House, and looks set to lose its Senate majority in a March 20 election.

Rutte’s Liberal party is trying to present a tough stance on immigration, to avoid losing ground to opposition parties such as the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders.

Although Tuesday’s decision was good news for the Tamrazyans, it came days too late for another family, the Grigoryans. That family of five, with children aged three to eight, was deported to Armenia early last week, just as the cabinet began deliberating on the issue.

“This is unfair and very painful,” their lawyer told Dutch news agency ANP on Wednesday.

“If their deportation had been postponed a few days, the family would have been allowed to stay.”

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Mexico prepares for arrival of next Central American migrant caravan

FILE PHOTO: Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, leave a temporary shelter voluntarily, which is to be closed by Mexican authorities for sanitary reasons, in Tijuana Mexico January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

By Diego Oré

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican authorities will meet with Central American officials to prepare for the arrival of a planned new caravan of migrants headed to the United States next week.

The head of Mexico’s immigration office, Tonatiuh Guillen, left on Wednesday on a trip to El Salvador and Honduras to meet with his counterparts and other authorities, said Interior Ministry spokesman Hector Gandini.

Mexico hopes to discourage a mass exodus from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and wants Central Americans who decide to migrate north to do so in an orderly way and through legal ports of entry.

“The doors to Mexico are open to anyone who wants to enter in an orderly fashion,” Gandini told Reuters in a telephone interview. “But whoever wants to come in illegally will be deported.”

Previous Central American caravans became a flashpoint in the debate over U.S. immigration policy.

That was intensified by the recent deaths of two migrant children in American custody and a partial U.S. government shutdown over U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.

There are 12 legal ports of entry for Central Americans on Mexico’s southern border, but Mexican authorities have identified an additional 370 illegal points of entry on that frontier, Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said this week.

Mexico borders in the south with Guatemala and Belize.

The illegal entry points will be “monitored and controlled to avoid undocumented access of people to our territory,” Sanchez said.

Guatemala’s deputy foreign minister, Pablo Cesar Garcia, met with Mexican authorities on Tuesday to discuss the caravan and to “provide all the necessary support to the migrants,” said Guatemalan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marta Larra.

“In Honduras, they kill us,” read an appeal circulating on social media for people to assemble in the violent Honduran city of San Pedro Sula next Tuesday to start the long trek north to the United States.

While other social media posts invite people to leave from nearby Santa Barbara on Jan. 20, U.S. authorities hoped to dissuade Central Americans from making the journey.

“The risks of illegal immigration are serious. Don’t waste your time and money on a trip destined to fail. The road is long and very dangerous. Thousands of Hondurans who participated in the caravan came back sorry,” Heide Fulton, the U.S chargé d’affaires to Honduras, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Additional reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador and Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana, Mexico; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Mexico says it won’t deport refugees as it seeks details on U.S. plan

FILE PHOTO: A group of Central Americans who are hoping to apply for asylum, wait at the border on an international bridge between Mexico and the U.S. in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s government said on Friday it wanted more details from the United States on its plan to send migrants to Mexico while their asylum claims are processed, and vowed not to deport people seeking refuge.

On Thursday, Mexico said it had agreed on humanitarian grounds to accept some non-Mexican migrants sent by the United States to wait in Mexico while their U.S. asylum requests were processed.

However, many questions remain about how the country would house what could be thousands of people from Central America.

The accord was widely viewed as a concession by Mexico’s new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, who has threatened to shut down the Mexico-U.S. border if the flow of migrants is not contained.

Questioned at a regular news conference about why Mexico appeared to be giving Trump what he wanted, foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico would set out its position more clearly on Monday once it had more information.

“Today, I’m going to ask the U.S. authorities to give us many details,” Ebrard said, noting that the fate of migrants already inside the United States would depend on U.S. law.

To send people to Mexico, the Trump administration is invoking a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the government to return migrants to a foreign country bordering the United States pending their immigration process.

But some legal experts argue that rule also exempts anyone found inadmissible at the border due to a lack of documents. That could apply to many asylum-seekers.

Ebrard sought to defend the leftist Lopez Obrador administration’s stance as a humanitarian gesture rather than a political one.

“Mexico will not deport people looking for asylum,” he said. “That would go against Mexico’s tradition in favor of the right to asylum, it would go against migrants’ human rights.”

It is unclear how many migrants the new policy could end up returning to Mexico, and Ebrard said he did not believe the measure could be applied retroactively.

Speaking at the same conference, deputy interior minister Alejandro Encinas said the government anticipated that migrant flows to Mexico would increase “significantly” next year, though not necessarily due to more people seeking asylum.

Mexico has pledged to provide work visas to migrants and Encinas said that the government’s public works plans in the south of the country could attract laborers.

Ebrard reiterated that Mexico was not making a deal to become a “safe third country,” which would oblige those seeking asylum who arrive first in Mexico to apply for asylum there.

“We haven’t signed a deal, we’re not going to, nor is the whole asylum procedure going to happen inside Mexico,” he said.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Dave Graham; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien)

Exclusive: Canada rushes to deport asylum seekers who walked from U.S. – data

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) vehicle is seen near a sign at the US-Canada border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is prioritizing the deportation of asylum seekers who walked across the border from the United States illegally, federal agency statistics show, as the Liberal government tries to tackle a politically sensitive issue ahead of an election year.

The number of people deported after their refugee applications were rejected was on track to drop 25 percent so far this year compared to 2017 to its lowest point in a decade, even as the number of deported border-crossers was on track to triple, according to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) data.

More than 36,000 people have walked into Canada from the United States to file refugee claims since January 2017, many saying they feared U.S. President Donald Trump’s election promise and policy to crack down on illegal immigration.

The influx has thrown the Canadian asylum system into turmoil and caused a political uproar in a country accustomed to picking and choosing its newcomers.

In response, the government gave more money to the independent body adjudicating refugee claims and appointed a minister responsible for border-crossers.

The CBSA, which is responsible for deportations, said in an email to Reuters that it classifies border-crossers with criminals as a top deportation priority.

Refugee lawyers and border officers said the prioritization seems to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s way of dealing with those asylum seekers, who have become a hot political issue for his Liberal Party ahead of a general election in 2019.

Border Security Minister Bill Blair declined to comment.

In an email, Blair’s office said the government is committed to a “robust and fair” refugee system and that everyone ordered removed has been given due process.

A CBSA inland enforcement officer said the tradeoff is that deportees who could pose a real public safety risk are not getting deported.

“We have priority cases, people with extensive criminal records that are due to be deported, people with security problems – these cases are not all taken care of because we have to take care of these administrative cases,” said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media.

Border-crossers “are not a priority, but they are a priority because of all the media attention around them.”

A CBSA spokesman said in an email that the agency prioritizes “irregular” failed refugee claimants along with criminals as a top priority, followed by other failed refugee claimants, but would not say why.

Six lawyers told Reuters they were aware of this acceleration of certain cases, some saying they have had border-crosser hearings scheduled in blocs, with a focus on those from Haiti and Nigeria.

Toronto lawyer Lorne Waldman said there were good reasons for accelerating the processing and deportation of people who crossed the border: it deters people with weak claims from making refugee claims in the hopes of living in Canada for years while their case wends through the system.

“The best way of discouraging people from making frivolous claims is by having the claims processed quickly,” Waldman said.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; editing by Grant McCool)

Hungary’s new Holocaust museum divides Jews, faces ‘whitewash’ accusations

FILE PHOTO: The new Holocaust museum called the House of Fates is pictured in Budapest, Hungary, October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

By Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – A planned new Holocaust museum in Budapest has divided Hungary’s Jewish community and triggered international concerns that it will downplay the wartime role of Hungarians in the persecution and deportation of Jews.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government plans to open the museum next year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the deportati7on of Hungarian Jews to death camps in German-occupied Poland. More than half a million Hungarian Jews were among six million Jews killed in Europe during the Holocaust.

In a Sept. 7 decree, the government granted ownership of the new museum, called the House of Fates, to the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH), one of the three registered Jewish groups in Hungary.

The permanent exhibition, to be set up by the EMIH with government help and housed in a former railway station, will be based on the concept of historian Maria Schmidt, who is an ally of Orban and owns a pro-government weekly.

It will use personal histories to explore the 1938-48 period in Hungary, with particular focus on children, and will also feature temporary exhibitions and education programs.

But the project, first announced in 2014, has drawn criticism from Israel’s Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.

“The museum concept clearly avoids addressing the role and responsibility of… Hungarian leaders of that era for the plight of the nation’s Jews, and their eventual abandonment to the hands of Nazi Germany,” Robert Rozett, Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, said in a statement last month.

It also seeks to gloss over the role of ordinary Hungarian citizens, he said. “It is implied that Hungary was actually a nation of rescuers. This is a grave falsification of history.”

BLOODY HISTORY

The head of EMIH, Rabbi Slomo Koves, said the museum remained open to suggestions from others, including Yad Vashem, adding that only about half of the concept was so far ready.

Koves said he wanted to give young visitors “an emotional relation to the story” along with all relevant context.

Hungary began ostracizing and discriminating against Jews under its right-wing ruler Miklos Horthy long before World War Two when it was an ally of Nazi Germany. In 1944 the Germans invaded Hungary to stop it switching sides and in just eight weeks, with the collaboration of the authorities, some 437,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to the Auschwitz death camp.

Tens of thousands of others were herded into ghettos in Budapest and killed, mostly by Hungarians.

The World Jewish Congress has suggested that Hungary put the museum under the supervision of an international body such as Yad Vashem, the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ).

The chairman of MAZSIHISZ, Andras Heisler, echoed that call, adding: “We’ve received much support from the government but this… dividing of the Jewish community affects us very negatively.”

Orban told parliament this month the opening of the museum could wait until the disputes surrounding it “die down”.

Budapest already has a Holocaust Memorial Center in a former synagogue that was opened in 2004.

Orban has repeatedly declared a policy of zero tolerance on anti-Semitism but has also risked angering Jews with remarks about “ethnic homogeneity” apparently aimed at right-wing voters and has been accused of trying to whitewash Hungary’s past.

In 2014 Orban’s government erected a monument to victims of the Nazi occupation that critics said depicted Hungarians only as passive victims, absolving them of guilt. But Orban has also spoken of “the very many Hungarians who chose evil over good”.

Gergely Gulyas, Orban’s cabinet chief, said the government would bear responsibility for the content of the new museum.

“We bow our heads before the victims of the Holocaust who became victims because the Hungarian state was unable to protect its own citizens and collaborated in the deportations,” he said.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

All migrant kids under five to be back with parents by Thursday: U.S. official

A minor sits in the back of a van as he is transported into Casa Esperanza, a federal contracted shelter in Brownsville, Texas, U.S. July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – All migrant children under age 5 who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border will have been reunited with their parents by early Thursday morning if they were eligible, a Trump administration official said in a statement on Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the government over its separation policies, disputed that assertion.

“Their statement is vague at a minimum,” said attorney Lee Gelernt, noting that a San Diego judge had set a deadline of Tuesday for reuniting those children. “We know they missed the deadline.”

The government has said some children were not eligible for reunification because the parent was deported, had a criminal record or was otherwise unfit.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego had ordered the government to reunite the children under the age of 5 by Tuesday and all separated children by July 26.

On Thursday, the government will give Sabraw a progress report on the younger children and whether it expects to meet the deadline for the older group.

The government has said around 2,300 children were separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, which was abandoned in June after intense protests.

The ACLU’s Gelernt said the government is not even close to reuniting all the children under 5 with their parents, including 12 adults who were deported without their children. He said they government has not told him how many children have been reunified with parents.

“I’ve asked the government for numbers and they should have told me by now,” he told Reuters.

Since the government first came under pressure to ease its policy on separations weeks ago, it has shifted its estimates of the number of children it would reunite.

The latest figures released by the government were early on Tuesday, when officials said that four children under 5 had been reunited and at least 34 more would be with their parents by the end of the day.

Catholic Charities, which helped place some of the children in shelter facilities after their separation, held a news briefing in New York at which a handful of the reunited parents expressed relief after weeks of anxiety over the separations.

“I’m happy to finally be able to be with my child. I will never be separated from him, no matter what,” said a tearful Javier, a 30-year-old from Honduras, who was reunited with his 4-year-old son after 55 days of detention. “Those were the worst days of my life. I never imagined that this would happen.”

The organization provided first names only.

The struggle to track and match parents with children under 5 suggests the government may have more difficulties in meeting a July 26 deadline for reuniting the remaining 2,000 older children with adults from whom they were separated.

“That is going to be a significant undertaking,” Sabraw said on Tuesday of the next deadline.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to blame the Democratic Party, among others, for failing to fix what he has characterized as a broken immigration system.

“Judges run the system and illegals and traffickers know how it works. They are just using children!” he said.

One immigration advocate told Reuters she was still awaiting details on when officials would return two children younger than 5 to their parents. One parent was from Honduras and the other from El Salvador.

“Our clients still have not been reunified!” said Beth Krause, an attorney with Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Project, in an email to Reuters. She said the government said one would be reunited sometime Wednesday.

If the government failed to reunite all the children under 5 with their parents by Thursday, Sabraw asked the ACLU to suggest penalties he could levy against the government.

Rights advocates have blamed the U.S. government’s poor technology for difficulties tracking children across multiple government agencies involved in their detention and care.

The government has said the delays stem from the time it takes to run background checks, confirm parentage and locate parents released from detention.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Yeganeh Torbati in New York and Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Lisa Shumaker)

Push for ‘Dreamer’ immigration bill gains steam in U.S. House of Representatives

Activists and DACA recipients march up Broadway during the start of their 'Walk to Stay Home,' a five-day 250-mile walk from New York to Washington D.C., to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act, in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday urged Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule debate on bills to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation, in a move aimed at reviving a push that sputtered in the Senate in February.

Backers said they had 240 House members on board so far pushing for debate of four different bills to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Republican President Donald Trump ended on March 5.

Under the House members’ plan, the measure with the most votes would win and be sent to the Senate. November’s congressional elections could contribute to an already difficult path, however.

The bill many lawmakers think is most popular was written by Republican Will Hurd and Democrat Peter Aguilar. It would protect “Dreamer” immigrants from deportation and strengthen border security, although not with a Southwest border wall Trump wants.

DACA, established in 2012 by Democratic then-President Barack Obama, protected illegal immigrants brought into the United States by their parents when they were children. Around 800,000 “Dreamers” have participated.

With Trump’s action, their legal status is in limbo pending the outcome of court battles.

Trump has urged Congress to write legislation giving these immigrants permanent protections, but he has failed to reach a compromise with Congress.

“It is time to have a full debate for the American public and have the entire country decide what border security should look like, what a permanent fix for Dreamers should look like,” said Republican Representative Jeff Denham, who represents a central California district with a large Hispanic population.

In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat Trump in his district, leading to speculation that Denham, like Republicans in similar areas, could face a tough re-election.

At least 218 votes are needed in the 435-member House to pass legislation. With five vacancies, slightly fewer are necessary.

But there are difficulties, even with the 240 votes supporting this latest immigration push.

Only 50 of the House’s 237 Republicans are behind the effort so far, with nearly all 190 Democrats on board.

That presents political problems for Ryan and his leadership team, which bridles at passing legislation not backed by a majority of fellow Republicans.

Representative Linda Sanchez, a member of House Democratic leadership, told reporters that a bill to take care of Dreamers could pass the House if Ryan allowed it, but that opponents were blocking a debate.

“One hundred of the most conservative members in that (Republican) caucus are making policy for the rest of the United States,” Sanchez said.

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; editing by Jonathan Oatis)