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This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of Americans turned out in both big cities and small towns to protest the Trump administration’s cruel family separation policy (see detailed recap and photos of this weekend’s activities here).
Yet the Trump administration is dragging their feet and refusing to abide by court orders to reunify more than 2,000 children with their parents, with plans to only reunite “about 10” kids with their parents within court-ordered 14 day window. Instead, they are ramping up plans to replace cages for kids with cages for kids and their parents and to continue the moral crisis we are living through.
On Friday, Senator Dick Durbin emerged outraged from a closed-door meeting with ICE personnel on the subject of administration plans to reunify families. As Senator Durbin wrote in a letter to President Trump:
A representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told me yesterday that ICE was preparing to reunite only “about 10” parents in its custody who had been separated from their children under age five within the 14-day time frame specified in the court’s order. There may be dozens or hundreds of children just in this tender age range who were separated from their parents. What does your Administration plan to do with them? Where are their parents?
The government has a legal and moral obligation to ensure that each of these children can be located by, and promptly reunited with, his or her parents. After yesterday’s briefing, I fear that your Administration is either not up to the task or not acting in good faith to reunite the families it separated.
Unfortunately, a court filing from the Department of Justice on Friday makes clear the administration’s plans and priorities are not about resolving the crisis at hand. As Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post first reported, DoJ drafted a legal notice on Friday that underscores their plans to indefinitely keep families incarcerated.
Dara Lind captures this in a new Vox piece entitled, “It’s official: the Trump administration has replaced family separation with indefinite family detention”:
That could easily mean months of detention (or longer) for some asylum-seekers — or, alternatively, a form of “assembly-line justice” that moves families’ cases through too quickly to allow for real due process.
…The administration says it has two choices: detain families or separate them … Empirically, that isn’t true: There are options beyond detention and separation. The Trump administration has the option to release families together — what Trump and his officials deride as “catch-and-release” — or to use “alternatives to detention” to monitor migrants and make sure they show up to court…
…Family detention facilities may not be identical to facilities for adults, but they’re still, essentially, jails. In the facility currently used for long-term family detention, in Berks County, Pennsylvania, bright lights reportedly keep children from sleeping well, and they can be disciplined if they try to climb into a parent’s bed for comfort.
The administration willfully ignores the fact that there are alternatives to detention that make sure asylum-seekers find attorneys and prepare for their day in court, ensure that applicants show up and follow through with their hearings, and save taxpayers money (see here for a detailed summary prepared by DHS Watch).
Recently, several outlets reported that the administration has requested the Department of Defense plan to house 12,000 beds for incarcerated families on military bases in Texas. This is unacceptable.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
The Trump administration should be mobilizing to end this moral crisis and reuniting thousands of children with their parents. Instead, the administration is challenging existing court orders, refusing to release children to their parents, and planning to indefinitely incarcerate tens of thousands of kids and parents. As Americans from all walks of life express outrage and stand up for a different vision of who we are as a country, the administration is doubling down on their inhumane and indefensible policies and practices. Trump and his team present the false choice of family separation or family internment. The solution is neither. Families should be reunited in freedom.