tags: , , , , AVEF, Press Releases

Not Reuniting 43% of Separated Children is a Disaster

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Trump Administration’s Cruelty and Ineptitude is Unacceptable

According to press reports, 1,442 of 2,551 children taken from their parents by the Trump administration have been reunited as of late yesterday.  Up against a court order to reunite all the children with their parents by yesterday’s deadline, the government reunited 57% of them. Unbelievably, the Trump administration is trying to portray their actions as responsible and the rate of reunifications as sufficient.

Here’s our take on what happened and why:

  1. The government separated children; outraged Americans brought them back together.The credit for the reunifications that have taken place should go mostly to the American people, not to its government. The American public, from immigrant service providers to newly-activated volunteers to small and big dollar donors, has mobilized in a heartening and heroic manner (see this piece from Dara Lind at Vox for a snapshot of how organizations such as FWD.us, ACLU, and Lutheran Social Services continue to fill the void left by the government’s mix of ineptitude and cruelty).
  2. The government deported parents without their kids and destroyed documents, most likely to cover up their malice and bumbling ineptitude. The Trump administration took more than 2,500 children from their parents, most of whom were seeking asylum, without any plan or system to reunite them. Our government then proceeded to imperil reunifications by destroying records that kept track of family ties. They then deported more than 460 parents without their children after misleading and pressuring terrified moms and dads to waive their rights to reunification and to asylum.
  3. This same unfit government now has the audacity to claim it should determine the fitness and eligibility of who deserves reunification. The default standard should be that all of the families ripped apart by the Trump administration should be made whole again. Opaque determinations that seem designed to offer cover for the administration’s mistakes and unfairly shift blame onto the parents are hardly in keeping with the spirit of Judge Sabraw’s court order that all families be reunited. The Trump team’s justification for the 57% reunification rate — that it is responsible for determining “eligibility” for reunification — is a cruel joke. Since when to the perpetrators of the crime get to determine “the best interests” of their victims?

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

We are thrilled for the families that have been reunited, but we are outraged that so many kids remain in government custody and separated from their parents. We salute the Americans who have done so much to help families damaged by our government’s policies and practices. And we call on the government to reunite each and every child with their parent — not 57% of them — as soon as humanly possible. This will require deported parents to be readmitted with humanitarian parole visas, a halt to the deportation of families traumatized by our government’s cruelty, and supports to enable families to heal and to prepare asylum applications. Finally, we thank Judge Sabraw for standing up to the Trump administration and for common decency, and we encourage him to continue bringing families together and to start bringing federal officials to justice.