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ICYMI: New York Times: “The Continuing Tragedy of the Separated Children”

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The New York Times lead editorial board today decries the fact that 497 children — 22 of whom are under the age of 5 — remain separated from their families.

The Editorial is excerpted below and available in full here.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” President Trump said on June 20, when he signed an executive order halting his administration’s depraved practice of separating migrant children from parents seeking asylum at the nation’s southern border. “This will solve that problem.”

It may be that signing such an order was a matter of conscience for Mr. Trump — that he felt morally compelled to address the humanitarian crisis caused by his own “zero tolerance” border policy.

But if so, the matter should still upset him. While family separations have slipped from the spotlight — allowing Mr. Trump to enjoy his morning executive time without enduring televised images of sobbing migrant children — the crisis itself is far from over. Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents. Many of those who have been reunited bear the scars of trauma. Migrant families continue to be rounded up into government detention centers, though now at least they are being held together.


More than a month past that deadline, progress is mixed. After a bumpy start, and with occasional foot dragging on the government’s part, more than 2,000 children have been reunited with their parents. But the shadow of what these innocents have suffered lingers. Volunteers working with the families report signs of separation trauma and other mental health issues in the children. Some have become withdrawn and silent. Some panic around strangers. Others are terrified to let their parents out of their sight, even to use the bathroom. Medical professionals warn of long-term emotional and psychological damage, including anxiety disorders, depression, trust issues, memory problems and developmental delays.

And these are the “lucky” ones. As of late August, more than 500 children still languished in government custody — scared, confused and unsure of ever seeing their parents again. A few dozen have parents who have been deemed ineligible for reunification because of criminal records or other circumstances. (Disqualifying offenses include drug-possession charges, ID violations and drunken-driving convictions.)


Then there’s the question of where this situation is ultimately headed. The Trump administration has made no move thus far to challenge the core injunction on family separations, but last week, during its weekly progress reports to Judge Sabraw, the Justice Department quietly filed a notice of appeal that preserves the government’s right to relitigate pretty much any aspect of the injunction. In notifying Judge Sabraw, Scott Stewart, a deputy assistant attorney general, assured the court that this was simply a matter of protocol that would not affect the continuing reunification process. But fights could arise, for instance, over whether deported parents should be allowed to return to America for reunification, or whether the government should bear any responsibility for providing trauma care to the children whose lives it has shattered.

No one knows what elements of the injunction, if any, the administration might decide to challenge. But given that this president’s political appeal has been built in no small part on his rabid immigrant bashing, it is best to remain vigilant.