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“The Nightmare of Child Separations Continues” House Oversight Committee Report Shows

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NPR: CBP Agent Forces 3-Year Old into Literal Sofi’s Choice of Mom or Dad

The moral collapse of the Trump administration is on full display: President Trump’s “go back to where you came from” racist tweets and comments aimed at women of color elected to Congress; VP Mike Pence and a group of Republican Senators see desperate and denied men in cages and callously turn away without speaking to them; CBP leaders and agents swap racist memes on Facebook groups; and Trump’s latest policy announcement is designed to end asylum in America, causing the UN Refugee Agency denounce our government. 

Yet the most visceral evidence of the Trump administration’s moral collapse and dehumanizing cruelty remains the family separation crisis. 

Family separation isn’t just a dark chapter of recent American history that has subsequently been resolved. Family separation continues to be pursued and enacted by the Trump administration as a matter of course, even after the supposed end of it a year ago. Agents are exploiting “best interests of the child” provisions in the child separation litigation settlement and the Remain in Mexico program to separate a growing number of families. 

El Paso-based journalist Bob Moore reports a story for NPR titled, “3-Year-Old Asked To Pick Parent In Attempted Family Separation, Her Parents Say:”

At a Border Patrol holding facility in El Paso, Texas, an agent told a Honduran family that one parent would be sent to Mexico while the other parent and their three children could stay in the United States, according to the family. The agent turned to the couple’s youngest daughter — 3-year-old Sofia, whom they call Sofi — and asked her to make a choice.

‘The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad,’ her mother, Tania, told NPR through an interpreter. ‘And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, ‘You said [you want to go] with mom.’’

Tania and her husband, Joseph, said they spent parts of two days last week trying to prevent the Border Patrol from separating their family. They were aided by a doctor who had examined Sofi and pleaded with agents not to separate the family…”

Last week, the House Government Oversight Committee held a hearing and issued a staff report based on subpoenaed documents from the Trump administration. The findings: the “nightmare of child separations continues.” Among the key excerpts:

The records obtained by the Committee indicate that the Trump Administration separated children unnecessarily—even under its own rationale—causing lengthy delays to reunifications and separations that continue to this day … The nightmare of child separations continues. Hundreds of additional children have been separated from their parents since the end of the Administration’s zero tolerance policy in June 2018. These continued unnecessary separations have contributed to the current crisis of children suffering in overcrowded, poorly-run government detention facilities at the border. In addition, at least 30 children separated from their parents under the zero tolerance policy remain separated, despite a federal court order more than a year ago to reunite these children with their families or an appropriate sponsor.

The information obtained by the Committee indicates that the Trump Administration’s decision to separate thousands of babies, toddlers, and children from their parents and put them in government custody for months or years is causing immense suffering … These child separations were not required by law and were not in the best interest of the children. Instead, the policy of separating children from their parents appears to be a deliberate, unnecessary, and cruel choice by President Trump and his Administration.

According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “The cruelty is the point. Nothing captures the dehumanizing cruelty of the Trump administration like their embrace of ongoing family separation policies. It’s a complete moral failing of this administration and the Republican Party to allow children to continue to be ripped from their parents’ arms and to be okay with 3-year old Sofi having to choose between her parents. Their willingness to advance and embrace such tactics doesn’t send a message of deterrence, only one of depraved cruelty and moral collapse and the weight is falling fully on children.”