The volume of coverage, pace of developments, and mountains of purposeful misinformation from the Trump administration can make it hard to focus on the essential facts of the family separation crisis:
- More than 2,000 seized children are locked up.
- The Trump administration has no serious plan to reunite separated children with their parents.
- The Trump administration continues to hold these kids in secrecy.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director or America’s Voice:
The Trump administration took the kids away from their parents, put them in federal custody and is now holding them secretly. They did it, they own it, they have to fix it. Enough with the phony reassurances and the public relations campaign. How are the kids doing? When are the doors going to be opened to our elected leaders, assistance groups and the media? What’s the plan for reunification? What is the timeline? Who’s responsible? When is the Republican Congress going to exercise oversight? How can the public help? Until these kids are back in the arms of their parents, we cannot rest. The only way this cruel and mendacious administration will do anything real is if we maintain public pressure.
For example, Miriam Jordan’s powerful New York Times story, titled “Torn Apart By Zero Tolerance, Kept Apart By Red Tape,” tells the story of one Brazilian mom, Lidia Karina Souza, and her nine-year-old son, Diego, who were separated despite trying to claim asylum:
Mother and son last spoke on the child’s ninth birthday, a week ago. This was no celebratory call. Lidia Karina Souza had been released from immigration detention nearly two weeks earlier. But she could not tell Diogo, who was separated from her shortly after they reached the United States, when they would see each other again.
…“I am going to do everything to get you out of there,” she told him on the call. “It’s so many papers they need.”
…Ms. Souza, 27, and her son turned themselves in to the Border Patrol on May 29, declaring that they had a fear of returning to their home country and wished to obtain asylum in the United States. The following day, an agent used Google Translate, she said, to explain to her — as Diogo erupted in tears — that because she had not presented herself at an official port of entry, she had entered the United States illegally; therefore she would go to jail, and he would go to a shelter. The son saw his mother being handcuffed.
…To get her son back, Ms. Souza learned, she would have to provide the shelter, which is run by Heartland Alliance, with a mountain of documents. The last straw, she said, was the fingerprint request last week. A case worker notified Ms. Souza that she and two other adults in the household would have to visit a designated location in their area to be fingerprinted — on July 6. Her request to get back her son would then take 22 days to be approved, she was told.
“They said she can only get the child in August,” said Jesse Bless, her lawyer. “That is completely unacceptable. What kind of process for reunification is this?”
Former ICE acting director John Sandweg fears that some of the seized children will be permanently separated from their parents. And the Trump administration is rejecting potential sources of additional resources and assistance to support the children and reunite families – refusing, for example, to allow the Red Cross permission to add its resources and expertise.
Shutting out the public and holding kids, including infants, toddlers and young girls, in secrecy is not reassuring. Leaking the formation of a task force at HHS is not a strategy to reunite families. Trying to change the subject to the courts and Congress is not a strategy that absolves the Trump administration from its responsibility in the matter of more than 2,000 kids ripped from the arms of their parents and now in federal custody. We want answers. We want results. We want transparency. Right now, we have none of these.