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“Counter to Everything America Stands For” — Trump Administration Separating Hundreds of Young Children from Their Parents to Deter Refugees

 

On Friday evening, Caitlin Dickerson of the New York Times reported on disturbing new details of how the Trump Administration separated hundreds of children from their parents as part of an effort to deter those fleeing violence from seeking asylum in the U.S. Confirming the worst fears of advocates and observers, the article reports that “more than 700 children have been taken from adults claiming to be their parents since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice,

“Separating children from parents seeking asylum is counter to everything America stands for. Our country has long taken pride in our image as a beacon of hope and our role as a world leader in offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and violence. Now, as a matter of taxpayer funded policy, our government is systematically separating toddlers and infants from the arms of their parents in a disgusting effort to slam the door shut and take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty.”

Below, find excerpts from Caitlin Dickerson’s story “Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken From Parents at U.S. Border”:

“On Feb. 20, a young woman named Mirian arrived at the Texas border carrying her 18-month-old son. They had fled their home in Honduras through a cloud of tear gas, she told border agents, and needed protection from the political violence there.

She had hoped she and her son would find refuge together. Instead, the agents ordered her to place her son in the back seat of a government vehicle, she said later in a sworn declaration to a federal court. They both cried as the boy was driven away.

For months, members of Congress have been demanding answers about how many families are being separated as they are processed at stations along the southwest border, in part because the Trump administration has in the past said it was considering taking children from their parents as a way to deter migrants from coming here.

Officials have repeatedly declined to provide data on how many families have been separated, but suggested that the number was relatively low.

But new data reviewed by The New York Times shows that more than 700 children have been taken from adults claiming to be their parents since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4.

…Homeland security officials said the agency does not separate families at the border for deterrence purposes. “As required by law, D.H.S. must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders, and occasionally this results in separating children from an adult they are traveling with if we cannot ascertain the parental relationship, or if we think the child is otherwise in danger,” a spokesman for the agency said in a statement.

But Trump administration officials have suggested publicly in the past that they were, indeed, considering a deterrence policy. Last year, John F. Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, floated the idea while he was serving as homeland security secretary.

…“The idea of punishing parents who are trying to save their children’s lives, and punishing children for being brought to safety by their parents by separating them, is fundamentally cruel and un-American,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, an advocacy group that conducts interviews and monitoring at immigration detention centers, including those that house children. “It really to me is just a horrific ‘Sophie’s Choice’ for a mom.”