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Ahead of One-Year Anniversary, New Reports Reveal the Pervasive Trauma and Chaos of the Family Separation Policy

 

As we approach Monday’s one-year anniversary of the family separation scandal that grabbed the attention of the nation, new reports document the ongoing pervasiveness of the cruel, inhumane policy of taking children from their parents in a failed effort to deter Central American families from seeking safety in the U.S.

As NBC’s Jacob Soboroff reported this week, the Trump administration knowingly separated thousands of families without the infrastructure to ever reunite these children and parents: “‘[I]n short, no, we do not have any linkages from parents to [children], save for a handful,’ a Health and Human Services official told a top official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement on June 23, 2018. ‘We have a list of parent alien numbers but no way to link them to children.’”

Taking children from their parents, which is meant only to be used when there is concern for the child’s safety if they remain with the adults they are with, is apparently still being used as a routine practice. Despite a court injunction prohibiting separations, USA Today’s Rick Jervis and Alan Gomez report that the administration has separated hundreds of children and parents since the court order them not to in 2018:

Examples include:

    • Advocates at the Young Center’s Harlingen, Texas, office said one in every five families they see at migrant shelters have been separated at the border for questionable reasons. The children ranged from 18 months to 15 years old.
    • Attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project said they’ve counted more than 40 separated families a month in the McAllen area since the injunction in June.
    • Officials at Al Otro Lado, which advocates for immigrants in California, said dozens of families are separated each day throughout the San Diego metro area.

According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Coming up on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s family separation policy, it’s clearer than ever that the administration willingly instigated a reign of terror. They deployed taxpayer-funded government officials to carry out child kidnapping.  According to the American Psychiatric Association, this risked causing permanent damage on young children in a cruel attempt to dissuade and deter those seeking safety. If that wasn’t sufficiently appalling, these kidnappers are manipulating standards meant to protect children from smugglers and abusers, to expand the separations, still.

“Central American refugees are fleeing a burning house, and we should address this problem as you would any refugee crisis by providing safe alternatives to risky journeys in the region, addressing root causes for out migration, and making sure our legal system is providing fair, quick and accurate resolutions to asylum claims so that we are not sending people who are genuinely at risk back into the hands of those who would do them harm.  That is how you solve the problem, but it will take a pragmatic approach that deals with reality and that is unlikely from the President who sees only a potential political issue to wield in 2020. This is will go down in history as one of the darkest chapters in America’s history where we are repeating our prior mistakes of turning people away or housing people in camps. The administration, and its officials, must be held accountable.”